Some types of cancer can be inherited as a result of certain faulty genes being passed down through families. The BRCA 1 and 2 genes greatly increase a woman’s chance of developing breast and ovarian cancer and a man’s chance of developing breast and prostate cancer.
We offer a comprehensive testing and consultation procedure, which gives you a clear picture of the risks, and the possible risk-reducing lifestyle changes you can make.
If you have a strong family history of cancer and you want to know whether you have inherited faulty BRCA genes, you may want to consider this test.
Even if you test positive it doesn’t mean that you are guaranteed to get cancer, because your genes are only part of the health equation. By the same token, you could test negative and still get cancer because of other health or lifestyle issues. We take an integrated approach and will organise any other care – including counselling and preventative measures - that you may need.
You will only be eligible for NHS testing if more than one family member has developed breast or ovarian cancer - or been diagnosed very young - and the faulty genes have already been identified in a relative. If you don’t meet these criteria but you do have a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer, and you’ve decided you do want the test, we can help.
The test and associated consultation may be suitable for you if you fit any of the following criteria:
No matter what route you take to us or whether you have seen an NHS doctor first, we can make sure you see one of our specialists within a few days.
We pride ourselves on our clinical excellence, you'll be looked after by an experienced multi-disciplinary care team.
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Our patients are at the heart of what we do and we want you to be in control of your care. To us, that means you can choose the consultant you want to see, and when you want. They'll be with you every step of the way.
All of our consultants are of the highest calibre and benefit from working in our modern, well-equipped hospitals.
Our consultants have high standards to meet, often holding specialist NHS posts and delivering expertise in complex sub-specialty surgeries. Many of our consultants have international reputations for their research in their specialised field.
You will have a formal consultation with a healthcare professional. During this time you will be able to explain your medical history, symptoms and raise any concerns that you might have.
You will be asked to fill in a detailed questionnaire to allow us to analyse your family history, calculate your chances of having the BRCA gene mutation and explain the implications of testing.
We will also discuss with you whether any further diagnostic tests, such as scans or blood tests, are needed. Any additional costs will be discussed before further tests are carried out.
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Our dedicated team will also give you tailored advice to follow in the run up to your visit.
We understand that any hospital procedure can be a time of worry and anxiety. Our experienced and caring medical staff will be there for you, holding your hand, every step of the way.
The test can be done as a simple injection or saliva sample. In some cases we will also need a sample from a relative with cancer, to compare the results.
There are three types of test:
Your test results will take about four weeks to arrive and we will arrange an appointment for you to see your genetic consultant at this point. Depending on the hospital, the consultation can take place face-to-face, via Skype or over phone.
If you test positive for one of the BRCA genes there will be a 50% chance that you will pass it on to your children and a 50% chance that one of your siblings has it. Women with the faulty BRCA gene have a 60-90% lifetime risk of breast cancer and a 40-60% risk of ovarian cancer.
It will be important for you to have regular checks ups, including mammography tests, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you will definitely develop cancer.
Your consultant will also discuss health and lifestyle chances that can reduce the risks and the possibility of other preventative measures – including drug treatments and surgery such as preventative mastectomy. They will also help develop a personalised screening and lifestyle plan for you.
You may want share your test results with your family. We understand that this could be difficult, so your genetic consultant will discuss the options with you. They won’t be able to talk to your family on your behalf but they may be able to give you a standard letter that explains the results and their implications.
If you have any questions or concerns, we're ready to help.
We are committed to delivering excellent individual care and customer service across our network of hospitals, clinics and specialist care centres around the UK. Our dedicated and highly trained team aim to achieve consistently excellent results. For us it's more than just treating patients, it's about looking after people.
The treatment described on this page may be adapted to meet your individual needs, so it's important to follow your healthcare professional's advice and raise any questions that you may have with them.
Spire Harpenden Hospital is only able to provide Covid-19 tests to patients undergoing surgery at our hospital. Covid-19 testing or antibody tests are not available as a standalone service.