BRCA & Genetic Predisposition

There are certain women who are genetically predisposed to getting breast cancer. While the gene is prevalent in people of the Ashkenazi Jewish background, the genetic mutation can occur in an individual of any cultural background. Often, individuals with a strong family history of breast cancer have genetic testing for the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 gene. If positive, there is a greater than 80% chance of developing breast cancer and about a 40% chance of developing ovarian cancer. The recommendation for a woman who carries this gene is to have prophylactic mastectomy and bilateral breast reconstruction.

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If the woman is past her child bearing years, it is also common for a physician to recommend removal of the ovaries. A woman who presents with breast cancer and who is BRCA positive would have a curative mastectomy on one side and a prophylactic mastectomy on the other side. Tissue reconstruction with either DIEP flaps or bilateral GAP flaps will leave the patient with a very natural breast reconstruction result.

Approximately 5 to 10% of women who have breast cancer genetic testing are found to be positive for this genetic mutation. Testing is simple and only involves a blood test. No removal of breast tissue is necessary to make the diagnosis of this genetic mutation.