Scientists have found two specific genes that are important in the development of breast cancer. They are called BRCA1 and BRCA2. Every woman has these genes, but some women have inherited a mutated form of one or both genes. Inheriting a mutated form of BRCA1 or BRCA2 increases a woman’s risk of breast and ovarian cancer. However, not all breast cancers are due to inherited mutations. Inherited gene mutations, including mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2, account for only about 5 to 10 percent of all cases of breast cancer, while most breast cancers are due to spontaneous gene mutations.

Genetic testing is offered to those who would like to find out if their family history of breast cancer may be increased because they carry a gene mutation. A genetic counselor or physician will be able to offer advice, counseling and services.

For more information about genetic testing, please go to the National Cancer Institute Website or call 1.800.4CANCER. If you would like to find a genetic counselor in your area, please refer to the Cancer Genetics Services Directory.