Breast Cancer Genetic Test (BRCA 1 & 2 Genetic Testing)

Spire Harpenden Hospital is able to offer breast cancer genetic tests. Located in Harpenden we're able to treat patients from across the Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire area.

The BRCA 1&2 genetic test (blood sample) is for people with a strong family history of breast cancer. If the BRCA 1&2 genes are present it will indicate a significant risk increase for breast cancer.

What is the BRCA 1 & 2 Genetic Test?

BRCA 1&2 genetic testing is performed on a blood or saliva sample and is available for individuals with a strong family history of breast and/or ovarian cancer. The test examines the DNA code for the BRCA 1 and 2 genes to find alterations which are likely to cause an increased risk of breast cancer. There are three different tests available:

Predictive testing is available for families where the genetic mutation has already been found. This test shows whether someone has inherited the familial mutation: if the mutation is not present then you are not at increased risk of cancer.

Ashkenazi Jewish mutation testing looks for the three common mutations which are responsible for 97% of BRCA mutations in Jewish families. If this test is normal then it is possible to go onto full BRCA sequencing if the individual/family wishes.

Comprehensive BRCA 1 and 2 testing examines the DNA code of the BRCA 1 and 2 genes in detail.  If you have been diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer, the test may explain the cause of that cancer. This test may also identify variants of unclear meaning.

BRCA mutations are rare; however because women who are shown to have a BRCA mutation have a high risk of breast and ovarian cancer, it is important they have increased cancer screening, such as mammography, and consider other risk reducing methods such as regular check-ups. It is important to have genetic counselling prior to BRCA testing. Our genetic counsellor will analyse your family history to calculate your chance of having a BRCA mutation and explain the implications and limitations of testing.

Genetic counselling and BRCA testing may be helpful for you if you meet any of the following criteria:

  • Families with several individuals who have had breast cancer, particularly at younger ages (below age 50)
  • Families with individuals who have had bilateral breast cancer (cancer in both breasts)
  • Families with breast and ovarian cancer
  • Ashkenazi Jewish families with breast or ovarian cancer

How do I take the BRCA 1&2 genetic test?

You will be sent a family history questionnaire to complete, and will then meet with our genetic counsellor who will explain the advantages and limitations of testing and answer your questions. The genetic counsellor will help you decide whether or not genetic testing is appropriate for you. Following this consultation, if you decide to have the test, you will be sent a genetic testing kit and we will arrange to have your blood sample drawn at a convenient location.

How long will it take to get the genetic test result?

Your test results will be ready approximately four weeks after the blood sample is taken. At this point, a consultation will be arranged to discuss the results with the genetic counsellor and a personalised screening plan can be arranged for you. The counselling can take place in London face-to-face or via phone or Skype (video) if you prefer.

How much does a BRCA 1&2 genetic test cost?

The BRCA 1&2 genetic test includes two hours of genetic counselling (list price of £125 to £155 per hour). The cost of the BRCA 1&2 testing will be discussed with the genetic counsellor.

How to book a BRCA 1&2 genetic test or learn more

To make an enquiry or order an assessment, please contact your local Spire Healthcare Hospital if it offers this test. You can also call GeneHealth UK on 0800 085 6616 or visit the GeneHealth UK website appointment page.

Click here to access more information about BRCA 1&2 including video advice from GeneHealth UK’s genetic counsellor.

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