There is a test that you can take to find out if you have the BRCHA gene. Jewish Ashkenazi women have a statistically higher chance of having this breast cancer gene. Five to ten percent of all women with breast cancer have BRCA 1 or 2 from their parents. In addition, 80% of women with BRCHA 1 will get breast cancer, 60% ovarian cancer and 50% might develop cancer in the second breast. BRCHA 2 patients still have a 50% breast cancer risk but the ovarian cancer risk is 25%. For this reason, some BRCHA patients I know have opted to get a double mastectomy. Others do not.
It’s usually a good idea to find out if you have this gene though because it can affect your course of treatment. I was lucky to be negative for BRCHA even though I am an Ashkenazi Jew.
My heart goes out to women who get this news too and find that their risk of recurrence is raised and have to consider future genetic repercussions. Despite this, most do very well.
Sometimes insurance won’t pay for this BRCHA test and it can be at least $1,000, so definitely check out whether your insurance company will cover it. Ours did.
If you do have the BRCHA gene, I have heard the term ‘BRCHA PACK’ which is a group that offers people education about this genetic mutation. Sometimes it is helpful to get the support of other women going through the same thing.