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BRCA mutations increase the risk of breast cancer.

Breast cancer forms in the cells of the breasts by mutated genes called BRCA1 and BRCA2. The exact cause of these mutated genes is not known, but risk factors such as weight, diet, age at menstruation, and menopause increase the risk.

A small percentage of people diagnosed with breast cancer have genetically inherited it through mutated genes passed down from one generation to the next. Everyone carries the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, but don't worry. A person with mutated genes may never develop breast cancer. However, they will pass the mutated genes to their children, who can develop cancer. That's why genetic testing is important.

Genetic testing is a simple blood test that can identify inherited BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations. Testing positive for mutated genes means the risk of developing breast cancer increases. A doctor may recommend routine testing, prescribe medication, or offer surgical options that reduce the risk of cancer.

Additional health and wellness information

If you're a Highmark member, you have access to a secure, members-only website that provides information about breast cancer. To access your Highmark member website, select the service region noted on your member ID card. After logging in, select the "Health & Wellness" tab and type "breast cancer" in the search field.