What is the BRCA gene and should you get tested for it?


It wasn’t so long ago that doctors refrained from calling breast or ovarian cancers by name.

After patients — mostly women — died from the disease, family often avoided talking about it, said Dr. Arlene Ricardo, breast cancer surgeon at Memorial Hermann Southwest Hospital.

Until about 30 years ago, most women did not know their family’s history of breast, ovarian or other gynecological cancers. They had no idea what to expect in midlife, Ricardo said.

A lot has changed in three decades: The stigma of talking about cancer has faded; the mortality rate for breast cancer has dropped; and genetic testing can now show patients whether they have genes that can cause specific cancers. [Read more…]