Women with a germline BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation or a hereditary predisposition for breast and ovarian cancer have substantial risk of breast or ovarian cancer relative to the general US population. Health care professionals can be instrumental in identifying women at increased risk through obtaining a comprehensive family history and becoming familiar with family history characteristics associated with hereditary predisposition for breast and ovarian cancer. BRCA carriers and women at very high risk benefit from multidisciplinary, individualized medical evaluation and risk management. We conducted a search of MEDLINE from 1989 through 2010 for the terms BRCA1, BRCA2, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, risk assessment, and genetic testing. We reviewed abstracts and relevant randomized and prospective studies that included very high-risk patient groups and BRCA mutation carriers. Herein, we review the role of genetic consultation and BRCA testing and the comprehensive, multisystem recommendations for risk management. A multidisciplinary approach offers the ability to educate those at very high risk about cancer prevention, reduce cancer risk, maximize early detection of breast and ovarian cancer, and improve survival.
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