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My mom is HER2 positive. Is there a test that I can have done to see if I am a carrier?

Sarah Foster Profile
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anonymous

Learning About Breast Cancer over 7 years
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  • Mary Foti Profile
    anonymous
    Survivor since 2010
    I am sorry about your mom's diagnosis. If you decide to get genetic testing, make sure you see a genetic counselor and/or a geneticist and ask that doctor if you are a candidate for BART testing. The genetic testing process is more complex than most people think. Your geneticist can explain the different available tests. There is "basic" testing and BART testing. My mother, who has fought breast cancer 3 times, tested BRCA negative after her first diagnosis in 2006 but she in fact really wasn't. (She only had the "basic" test). When I was diagnosed in 2010, I consulted a geneticist with enough brains to order BART genetic testing for me, which confirmed I have a BRCA2 mutation. My mother was re-tested and is also positive. Several cousins were subsequently tested and are also positive. If I hadn't had the BART test, they would not have known. Genetic testing is a scary process but it can give you and your family potentially life-saving information.
    over 7 years Flag
    • Becky G Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 2A Patient

      I haven't heard of the BART test. How is that different from the BRCA1 and BRCA2 (I guess basic) testing?
      I am interesting in learning more. Is it a blood test?

      over 7 years Flag
    • Mary Foti Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2010

      Becky, it sounds like your mom has HER2+ cancer. That is just one of several different breast cancer cell characteristics, which are analyzed by a pathologist and also include factors such as if the cells are estrogen receptor positive (ER+),...

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      Becky, it sounds like your mom has HER2+ cancer. That is just one of several different breast cancer cell characteristics, which are analyzed by a pathologist and also include factors such as if the cells are estrogen receptor positive (ER+), triple negative (ER-, PR-, HER2-), or progesterone receptor positive (PR+), etc. These are hormones and proteins that affect how and why breast cancer cells grow. If you are carrying a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, that means you have a much higher chance of developing breast and/or ovarian cancer at some point in your life, but nobody can tell you when that will happen, if it will happen, or what specific type of cancer you might develop.

      With respect to my genetic testing, both the "basic" and BART tests were done via a simple blood test (one sample took care of both tests) which was sent to a lab in Utah called Myriad Genetics. This company owns the patents on BRCA gene testing and is the only lab in the country that performs these tests. The BART test was developed to look for certain mutations that the basic test can miss. (Why Myriad Genetics does not make one test that looks for ALL mutations still makes no sense to me.) I forget what BART stands for - I think it's BRCA Analysis Rearrangement Test or something to that effect. My insurance company covered both the basic test and the BART tet because of my recent breast cancer diagnosis and my awful family history; however, the reason the BART test is not standard for all gene testing patients is because it's expensive and, according to Myriad, doesn't usually reveal anything. But in my case, it did. There is a large class action lawsuit against Myriad which may go to the Supreme Court this year that involves all of these issues, the most major of them beig whether or not Myriad has the right to "own" a gene mutation. I hope this helps!

      over 7 years Flag
    • Mary Foti Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2010

      But please remember that only around 10% of breast cancers may be related to BRCA gene mutations. You can still develop breast cancer even if you have no family history at all. Where genetic testing provides a benefit is when there is a family...

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      But please remember that only around 10% of breast cancers may be related to BRCA gene mutations. You can still develop breast cancer even if you have no family history at all. Where genetic testing provides a benefit is when there is a family history and you want to know if there is a genetic reason for it, thereby providing potentially life saving information for you and other family members. But if you test negative, you should still get regular screenings as recommended by your doctor. If you feel you are at increased risk, ask your doctor for a more aggressive and/or frequent screening plan.

      over 7 years Flag
  • Becky G Profile
    anonymous
    Stage 2A Patient
    Yes. It's the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genetic test to see if you carry the breast cancer gene. Having the gene doesn't necessarily mean you will get breast cancer, but it may increase your chances and give you information to take care of yourself and be proactive. Here is some information from www.breastcenter.com on the test: In 1994, the first gene associated with breast cancer — BRCA1 (for BReast CAncer1) was identified on chromosome 17. A year later, a second gene associated with breast cancer — BRCA2 — was discovered on chromosome 13. When individuals carry a mutated form of either BRCA1 or BRCA2, they have an increased risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer at some point in their lives. Children of parents with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation have a 50 percent chance of inheriting the gene mutation. Your Mom's doctor would probably be able to refer you to a genetic counselor to have the test done. They do take a sample of your spit instead of a blood test now. It's an easy test to take, but can cost quite a bit (fyi). Hope that helps! Good luck and all the best to your Mom!!!
    over 7 years Comment Flag

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