PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Scientists say most breast cancer is not genetic, but for women who do have a family history, there is the BRCA test.
Now, with a doctor’s prescription, women can take that test at home, but that has some doctors worried.
It’s been billed as an easy and cost-effective way to find out if you have the gene mutation known as BRCA, which greatly increases the risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
The company, Color, has a testing kit based on a saliva sample, which it says can be used in the privacy of your own home for $99.
“We’ve tried to democratize access to this type of genetic information around breast and ovarian cancer risk and we wanted to do it in a responsible way,” said Elad Gil, the founder of Color.
The issue got a lot of attention after Angelina Jolie revealed she had her breasts and later ovaries removed in an attempt to reduce her risk of cancer after she tested positive for BRCA1.
But some doctors feel home testing could do more harm than good, giving women who test negative for the mutation a false sense of security.
“They may be assuming because they had a negative BRCA test now that they don’t have to go for mammograms, don’t have to go for doctor examinations or physical breast exams,” Dr. Richard Frieder said.
Doctors say a positive BRCA test doesn’t mean you’ll definitely get cancer.
And because it can create a lot of anxiety and uncertainty, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends against routine BRCA gene testing for women who do not have a family history.