How does a BRCA gene mutation affect your breast cancer risk?

Having a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation:

  1. increases your risk of developing breast cancer over your lifetime
  2. increases the chance of developing cancer earlier in life
  3. increases the risk of developing a second (unrelated) breast cancer in the same or opposite breast, if you have had a prior diagnosis of breast cancer
  4. increases the risk of developing an aggressive form of breast cancer known as triple negative breast cancer

breast cancer risk comparison

click the buttons below for breast cancer risk estimates for the general population and BRCA mutation carriers.

* Canadian Cancer Society’s Advisory Committee on Cancer Statistics. (2014). Canadian Cancer Statistics 2014. Toronto, ON: Canadian Cancer Society. p23.

** The lifetime risk of breast cancer for BRCA mutation carriers can be as high as 85% in some families. [2] [3]
In some other families the lifetime risk can be as low as 47-56%. [4]


General Population Brca Mutation
Risk of developing
breast cancer
11%[1] 50-85%[2] [3] [4]

 

Remember, you should always consult a genetic counsellor to better understand your own risk.

understanding your breast cancer risk over your lifetime

If a woman carrying a BRCA gene mutation develops cancer, it is often at a younger age than a woman without a BRCA mutation. Researchers and genetic counsellors have no way of knowing when or if a woman will get breast cancer. Deciding what breast cancer risk management option(s) to choose is very personal and may even change over time.

Find out more about breast cancer and symptoms
Learn about other risk factors for breast cancer
Learn about breast cancer risk management options


understanding your ovarian cancer risk

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How does a BRCA gene mutation affect your ovarian cancer risk?  Having a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation:

  1.  increases your risk of ovarian cancer over your lifetime
  2. increases the chance of developing ovarian cancer earlier in life

ovarian cancer risk comparison

click the buttons below for recent ovarian cancer risk estimates for the general population, BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers.

 * Chen (2007) Journal of Clinical Oncology


 

General Population BRCA1 BRCA2
Risk of developing
ovarian cancer
1.4%[5] 36-46%[5] 13-23%[5]

 


 other brca risk

Breast and ovarian cancer are the most significant risks for BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers. There may also be a slight increase of risk for other cancers such as melanoma, prostate and pancreatic cancer, particularly for BRCA2 gene mutation carriers.

Your genetic counsellor can speak to you about these cancer risks.


Key points to remember
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Women who carry the BRCA gene mutation have an increased risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer.

Just because you have the BRCA gene mutation does not mean you will develop cancer.

All of the factors that impact risk for cancers are unknown. We do not know a woman’s exact risk for developing cancer.chromosome

You should always talk with a genetic counsellor to get the most accurate estimate of your personal cancer risk.

 

 

Learn from other BRCA mutation carriers about your sense of risk and how it shapes your choices