Knowledge Is Power: Why Early Testing for a BRCA Mutation Is Key

Talk to your doctor about BRCA testing to take some of the unknown out of your treatment options.

Get to know BRCA

You may have heard about BRCA mutations. They are changes or alterations seen in your BRCA genes that are useful to know about for 2 different reasons: to inform your treatment options and to inform you of your family’s risk of certain cancers.

Unsure if testing for a BRCA mutation is right for you? Below you’ll find 3 common questions that may help you decide if you should approach your doctor.

Who should consider BRCA testing?

People with ovarian or breast cancer and their families.

Why get BRCA tested?

To inform your treatment options and your family’s risk of certain cancers.

When should I get BRCA tested?

The sooner you get tested for a BRCA mutation, the sooner you’ll know more about your cancer and treatment options.

Early testing could mean an earlier treatment plan.

The sooner you ask about when you’ll be BRCA tested, the sooner you and your doctor can find out which treatment plan is right for you.

Who should consider BRCA testing?


If you have ovarian or breast cancer, you should consider BRCA testing. Testing positive for a BRCA mutation determines whether or not you can receive certain treatments. Several national guidelines recommend that certain people with breast or ovarian cancer get BRCA tested:

  • Society of Gynecologic Oncology
  • National Comprehensive Cancer Network
  • American Society of Clinical Oncology

All women diagnosed with ovarian cancer, regardless of age or family history, should receive genetic counseling and be offered genetic testing.

— Society of Gynecologic Oncology

If your family has a history of cancer, talk to your doctor about getting tested for a BRCA mutation. If you have an inherited BRCA mutation, you could be at an increased risk of developing certain types of cancers, including breast, ovarian, prostate, and pancreatic cancer. Although BRCA mutations are more commonly associated with breast and ovarian cancer, it’s important to note that men are also impacted by BRCA mutations. They should talk to their doctor and assess their own risk of developing cancer and the risk of passing a mutation along to their children.

Genetic results are valuable to inform other family members about their cancer risk.

— Society of Gynecologic Oncology

Why get BRCA tested?

Why get BRCA tested?

If you have cancer…

Knowing your BRCA status empowers you and your doctor to approach treatment differently. Some therapies work differently depending on whether or not you have a BRCA mutation. This is why finding out you have a BRCA mutation earlier can help your doctor determine what treatment options are right for you. It can also help inform others in your family about their own cancer risk.

Reasons to Get BRCA Tested

If you do not have cancer…

Knowing your BRCA status will let you know if you’re at an increased risk of developing certain cancers. From there, you and your doctor can screen for cancer more frequently or decide to take preventive action. Finding out that you have a BRCA mutation can also prompt other family members to get tested to see if they are at risk.

When BRCA Testing Can Help

“The next thing [my doctor will] want to do is based on knowing that I am BRCA-positive.”

— Rozzie, an ovarian cancer survivor on how her BRCA mutation status impacted her treatment

When should I get BRCA tested?

It’s important to ask your doctor about testing for a BRCA mutation as soon as possible. For women with ovarian cancer, testing could happen as early as diagnosis or during surgery. If you test positive for a BRCA mutation, you and your doctor can make treatment decisions earlier to help stop cancer from progressing or coming back.

BRCA mutations can either be inherited or acquired. These 2 types of BRCA mutation tests can be given at different times and are used to identify different mutations.

Tumor Testing for BRCA mutations

Tumor Testing

This type of testing is comprehensive and can be done as early as during surgery. It could increase your odds of identifying a mutation by almost 65% compared to DNA testing alone, because it finds both inherited and acquired BRCA mutations. This makes it an important step to determine which treatments are available to you.

Blood or Saliva Testing for BRCA mutations

Blood or Saliva Testing

This type of testing uses DNA to identify inherited BRCA mutations. If you find out you have a BRCA mutation with a tumor test, you may receive a blood or saliva test to see if it is inherited or not. This is important to determine your family’s cancer risk and your treatment options.

Both of these tests should be done by a doctor, so be sure to ask yours about BRCA testing as early as possible to better understand your treatment options.

A BRCA mutation makes your cancer unique.

Ask how soon you’ll be tested for a BRCA mutation to see if you’re one step closer to a personalized treatment plan for your distinct disease.

Learn about the basics behind BRCA

BRCA basics video

Watch the video that covers the BRCA basics from start to finish. You’ll find information on what a BRCA mutation is, why it’s important to get tested for one, and how to start the testing process with your doctor.

Select a BRCA testing video that applies to you: