Genetic Testing to Learn about Your Risk for Breast and Ovarian Cancer: Questions for the doctor

Genetic Testing to Learn about Your Risk for Breast and Ovarian Cancer: Questions for the doctor

Genetic counseling and testing can help you understand your risk for some kinds of cancer. Genetic tests help doctors look for mutations (changes) in certain genes.

If you have a mutation in the BRCA1 gene or the BRCA2 gene, you are more likely to develop breast and ovarian cancer. You may also be at higher risk of developing other types of cancers.

Talk with your doctor about genetic testing to learn about your risk for breast and ovarian cancer if you have:

  • A family member who had breast cancer before age 50
  • A family member had cancer in both breasts
  • A family member had both breast and ovarian cancer
  • A male family member who had breast cancer
  • Two or more family members who had breast cancer
  • Eastern European Jewish heritage

If genetic tests show that you are at higher risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer, you and your doctor can discuss options for managing your risk.

The Affordable Care Act covers counseling about genetic testing for some women. Depending on your insurance plan, you may be able to get counseling at no cost to you. Talk to your insurance provider.

What do I ask the doctor?

Visiting the doctor can be stressful. It helps to have questions written down ahead of time. Print these questions and take them with you when you visit the doctor. You may also want to ask a family member or close friend to go with you to take notes.

  • What is my risk for developing breast or ovarian cancer?
  • Are there warning signs I can look out for?
  • Based on my family history, would you recommend genetic testing to learn more about my risk?
  • What are the benefits and risks of genetic testing?
  • What are my chances of having a mutated (changed) gene that could increase my risk for cancer?
  • What would a positive or negative test result mean for me?
  • If I have a mutated gene, what options will be available to me?
  • If I have a mutated gene, how could it affect my children's health?
  • If I have a mutated gene, what does that mean for other members of my family?
  • If I get tested, who will be able to see my test results?
  • Besides mutated genes, what other things increase my risk for breast and ovarian cancer?
  • If I have a mutated gene and decide not to do genetic testing, what types of cancer screening tests are recommended to check for breast and ovarian cancer?
  • Is there information I can take with me about genetic testing?