Women with a family history of breast or ovarian cancer may be at greater risk for these diseases. Thanks to the genetic BRCA test, women can be screened for the hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome gene.
A positive test doesn’t mean you will develop breast or ovarian cancer, though the odds are greater. On the other hand, a negative test doesn’t mean you won’t.
The test is simply a screening method for women who are considered high risk, says Clara J. Chae, M.D., Summa Physicians Inc. – Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Dr. Chae takes a full family history before determining whether you meet the criteria for testing. She also is available to counsel patients about the test, what it means if it comes back positive and what options are available.
In most cases, BRCA screening is a blood test, although a buccal test (swab inside the mouth) can be used. What happens next depends on the results.
If the test comes back positive, Dr. Chae will explain the options from which a woman can choose. The options include:
- Increased screening for breast cancer (clinical breast exam every six months, and a mammogram and MRI annually at six-month intervals)
- Medication usually prescribed after a diagnosis of breast cancer
- A preventive mastectomy
For ovarian cancer, Dr. Chae recommends monitoring for symptoms. She may suggest removal of ovaries and fallopian tubes for women over age 40 or past their child-bearing years.
If the BRCA test comes back negative, Dr. Chae still will recommend increased screening – semi-annually instead of annually – because you’re still at an increased risk.
Dr. Chae believes that BRCA screening is an essential part of the screening regimen offered by Summa Health System. “It’s part of preventive women’s health,” she says.
The BRCA screening is expensive, but a majority of insurance companies cover the test if a woman fits the criteria. A payment plan can be arranged if your insurance doesn’t cover the cost of the test.
If a woman is diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer, care is coordinated through Parkview Center at Summa Barberton Hospital or Cooper Cancer Center on the campus of Summa Akron City Hospital. Summa Health System’s team-based, cross-disciplinary approach to cancer treatment and research delivers cancer-fighting results faster.
Dr. Chae administers the genetic BRCA test in her offices at Summa Barberton and Wadsworth-Rittman Hospitals. To schedule an appointment, call (800) 237-8662, ext. 234.