3 Tips To Follow After Learning You Have A BRCA Mutation
If you have recently learned you have a BRCA1 or BRCA2 genetic mutation, you may be feeling a combination of complex emotions, including anxiety. Learning as much as you can about the specifics of your BRCA mutation will help empower you to take positive steps to protect your health. While learning that you have a BRCA mutation is certainly scary, there is a lot of hope for your situation if you remain proactive. Here are a few of the most important steps to take:
Meet a Genetics Counselor
Even if you met with a genetics counselor before your genetics test, it's important to do so again now that you have your results. BRCA1 and BRCA2 result actually vary depending on the exact way the mutation has unfolded in your family. Your genetic counselor will be able to go over your exact results and spell out your risk for ovarian, breast, and other forms of cancer. Your genetic counselor is also a wonderful resource for answering any questions you have, and can also help you determine a course of action for preventing cancer.
Find a Doctor with BRCA Experience
Not all OB-GYN or general practitioner doctors have experience with BRCA mutations. A doctor who specializes in this area is ideal because they can work with your genetic counselor to help you come up with a comprehensive plan for regular cancer screenings. If you live on the east coast, the Basser Center for BRCA, supported by the Jon Gray foundation, has excellent doctors and resources specifically for those with BRCA mutations. If you decide to have preventative surgeries, your doctor will be able to refer you to qualified surgeons.
Have Sit-Down Conversations with Your Family
Since BRCA is a family mutation, it is important to sit down with your close family members to inform them of your test results and encourage them to get tested for BRCA as well. If you have a sibling, they have a 50% chance of having the same mutation, and a 50% chance of not having it if they inherited that particular gene from your other parent. Your children should also be tested once they are adults. If you are married or in a serious relationship, it is a good idea to discuss your BRCA mutation with your partner so they know how best to support you.
By following these tips and taking proactive care of your health, you can live a long, healthy life even with a BRCA genetic mutation.