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Starting a Family When You Have BRCA

2021-10-20T07:03:42-06:00October 20th, 2021|

About 1 in 500 women in the U.S. have the BRCA gene mutation, which increases the risk of breast, ovarian, and pancreatic cancers. If you have a BRCA gene mutation, you may understandably be anxious. You might be concerned not only about your own future health, but also that of your children. What would happen if you become pregnant? Would you pass on the BRCA gene mutation to your child?

Research in genetics is always evolving and the good news is, you have options when it comes to building your family.

What is the BRCA gene mutation?

Both BRCA1 and BRCA2 are genes found in your body and when functioning as they should, they help to repair damaged DNA. Each person has two copies of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, one copy is inherited from each parent. It’s possible for BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes to become damaged in some way and these mutations increases the risk of certain cancers.

A recent large study found that about 72% of women with BRCA1 mutations and 69% of women with BRCA2 mutations will develop breast cancer, and about 44% of women with BRCA1 mutations and 17% of women with BRCA2 mutations will develop ovarian cancer.

How is the BRCA gene mutation passed on?

Each child of a parent who carries any mutation in one of these genes has a 50% chance of inheriting the mutation.

To prevent your future children from inheriting a BRCA gene mutation and having an increased risk of cancers caused by BRCA gene mutations, you can test your embryos through a process known as preimplantation genetic testing for monogenic disorders (PGT-M).

What is preimplantation genetic testing?

In order to do PGT-M, you need to go through an in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle to retrieve eggs from your ovaries and have those eggs fertilized in a laboratory. After the eggs are fertilized, a few cells from the outer layer of the embryos are biopsied and analyzed. The embryologist can then identify the embryos with and without the gene mutation. and those embryos can then be transferred to the uterus when you are ready to have a baby.

You can have an embryo transferred that doesn’t have the BRCA mutation, essentially eliminating the BRCA gene mutation (or any other identified gene mutation) from the family tree forever.

If PGT-M is something you want to look into, or if you are concerned about a genetic mutation, schedule an appointment one of our CCRM Fertility specialists to find out your next steps.