Dr. Larissa Korde discusses the link between BRCA mutations and breast cancer. BRCA1 and BRCA2 are genes in the class of genes called tumor suppressors.

Mutation of these genes has been linked to hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.

Mary-Claire King, PhD, a University of Washington professor of genome sciences and medicine, discovered the "breast cancer gene," BRCA1, on chromosome 17, which is responsible for a number of different inherited breast and ovarian cancers. This led to the discovery of BRCA2..

A woman's risk of developing breast and/or ovarian cancer is greatly increased if she inherits a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation. Men with these mutations are also at increased risk for breast cancer.

Genetic tests are available to check for BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations and genetic counseling is recommended before and after these tests with SCCA's Breast and Ovarian Cancer Prevention Program.

If a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation is found, several options are available to help you understand and manage your cancer risk. Research studies are ongoing to find better ways of detecting, treating, and preventing cancer in BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers.