What is BRCA?
What is BRCA?
BRCA refers to two genes – BRCA1 and BRCA2- that every person has. This includes male and female. They are just two of the close to 30,000 genes in almost every cell of our body.
The BRCA genes fall into a category of genes known as ‘tumour suppressor’ genes and they play a vital role in the prevention of cancer.
What if someone has a faulty BRCA gene?
Some people may be born with faulty BRCA genes. This is true for both men and women. Since BRCA gene faults compromise the gene’s ability to function, these individuals have an increased risk for developing certain cancer types.
Faulty BRCA genes can be inherited from either parent. Equally, both men and women with a faulty BRCA gene can pass this on to their children – sons and daughters.
For a couple in which one partner has a faulty BRCA gene, there is a 50% chance with every pregnancy that this will be passed on. This is referred to as dominant inheritance.
I have a faulty BRCA gene – which cancers am I at risk of developing?
The cancers for which someone with a faulty BRCA gene has an elevated risk are often referred to as the ‘BRCA related cancers’. These are as follows:
I have a faulty BRCA gene – what is my risk for developing BRCA–associated cancers?
The tables below show the cancer risks for females and males with fault either BRCA1 or BRCA2. Ranges are given, as the risk to each individual depends on multiple factors.
Sources: Cancerresearchuk.org; UKCGG BRCA1 Germline Pathogenic Variant Carriers Management Guidelines for Healthcare Professionals; UKCGG BRCA2 Germline Pathogenic Variant Carriers Management Guidelines for Healthcare Professionals
I have a faulty BRCA gene – is there anything I can do to manage or reduce my cancer risks?
Yes. Someone who is identified as having a faulty BRCA gene is eligible, on the NHS, to access several options that help to manage or reduce their cancer risk.
These options, often referred to as ‘risk management options’, are designed to either:
- catch the cancers earlier when the prognosis is better
- reduce the chance of BRCA-associated cancers developing altogether
There are also options for couples in which one partner has a faulty BRCA gene to avoid passing on the gene to their children.
Much more information about these risk management options can be found hereLearn More →