Example Letter for Patients to Share Genetic Testing Results for BRCA1/BRCA2 with Family Members

Instructions:

  • Encourage your patient to talk with their family members about BRCA testing then share the letter as a reminder of what they discussed.
  • Edit this letter, as needed. You may choose to refer to your patient as “one of your relatives” throughout the letter to avoid identifying a specific person by name.
  • If possible, include with the letter a copy of your patient’s genetic testing results or informational sheet on the particular genetic mutation, so that relatives can share this information with their health care providers.
  • Remind your patient that this letter only applies to blood relatives and not “in-laws.” Blood relatives include parents, grandparents, children, siblings, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins. If time permits, you may want to help your patient determine which family members should receive this letter.

 

 

Dear [xx],

Your family member, [patient name], recently had genetic testing for inherited mutations (changes) in the breast cancer 1 (BRCA1) and breast cancer 2 (BRCA2) genes. These are the genes most commonly affected in breast and ovarian cancer. The test found a [BRCA1/BRCA2] mutation that causes an increased risk for breast, ovarian, and other cancers. If someone finds out that they have a mutation in BRCA, they can take steps to lower their chances of getting cancer or find cancer earlier. Finding cancer earlier can make it easier to treat and allow for more treatment options.

BRCA mutations run in families, so this information is important for [patient name]’s blood relatives. Talk to your doctor about genetic counseling and testing if you want to find out whether you have this mutation, too. Genetic testing for BRCA mutations may be covered by health insurance and is only recommended for people over 18 years old.

You may find it helpful to talk to your doctor about what it would mean if you were found to have a BRCA mutation, including ways to lower your risk of cancer or getting it diagnosed earlier. Options may include preventive surgery, medications, and earlier, more frequent, and additional cancer screening. If you have a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, it does not mean that you will definitely get breast or ovarian cancer.

Your doctor can tell you more about the increased cancer risks linked to BRCA mutations.

  • People who inherit a mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene are more likely to get breast, ovarian, tubal, peritoneal, prostate, and pancreatic cancer.
  • In general, women with a BRCA mutation are more likely to get breast or ovarian cancer before age 50 than women without a BRCA mutation.
  • Men with BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations also have a higher chance of getting breast cancer.

The attached document shows the specific mutation that [patient name] has. This information is important to share with your doctor.

Although it may be difficult to learn that there is a BRCA mutation in your family, [patient first name] can now take steps to manage future cancer risks. Your doctor can help you do the same. Please reach out to your healthcare provider if you have any questions.

Sincerely,

[                       ]

 

Additional resources

Page last reviewed: October 12, 2017