Tips to elicit your patient’s family history of BRCA1 and BRCA2

20th October 2021

Taking a good family history allows geneticists to triage referrals appropriately.

BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations are characterised by an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancers; furthermore, the genes also carry an increased risk of prostate cancer (Mehrgou et al, 2016). In some populations (such as the Ashkenazi Jewish community) there is a higher incidence of BRCA1 and 2, therefore a lower threshold for referral should be considered.

Taking a concise detailed family history is an important part of the consultation. Patients with a strong family history should be referred to a clinical geneticist for further assessment.

The referral letter should include all relevant information, including:

  • First and second degree affected
  • Age at diagnosis
  • Tumour type
  • Stage of the disease
  • Survival rate

For more tips, access GatewayC’s ‘Ovarian Cancer – Early Diagnosis’ course which features Dr Emma Woodward, Consultant Clinical Geneticist, discussing the link between family history and ovarian cancer.

Find out more:

  • Access GatewayC’s ‘Ovarian Cancer – Early Diagnosis’ course here
  • Read Genomics Education Programme (2021) ‘Taking and drawing a family history’ here
  • Read Mehrgou, A. and Akouchekian, M. (2016) ‘The importance of BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genes mutations in breast cancer development’ here
  • Read Target Ovarian Cancer (2019) ‘Familial ovarian cancer: a guide for primary care’ here
  • Read GatewayC’s ‘How reliable is the CA125?’ here

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