What are BRCA1 and BRCA2?

BRCA1 and BRCA2 are genes that produce proteins that help repair damaged DNA. Everyone has these genes. For people who have a mutation in those genes, however, DNA damage may not repair properly. As a result, cells are more likely to develop additional alterations that can lead to cancer.

If I have a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, for which cancers am I at increased risk?

Women are at increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer, as well as pancreatic, skin and digestive tract cancers.

Men are at increased risk of prostate, pancreatic, skin and digestive tract cancers. It is important to note men are also at increased risk for breast cancer.

If I have the mutation, does that mean I will automatically develop cancer?

No. Not everyone who carries a genetic mutation will develop cancer but one’s risk is greatly increased.

What else do I need to know, generally, about BRCA1 and BRCA2?

Breast and ovarian cancers associated with the BRCA mutations tend to develop at younger ages than their nonhereditary counterparts.

Both women and men can carry the gene and pass it on to their offspring.

If either parent carries the BRCA 1 or BRCA2 mutation, each child has a 50% chance of inheriting the mutation.

Are BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations more common in certain racial/ethnic populations?

About one out of every 40 individuals of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry has a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, as compared to one out of every 600--800 members of the general population.

This does not mean other populations are not at increased risk, however, statistics for other ethnicities are less clear and readily available.

This information is taken from the following sites (with each site containing references):

NIH.GOV (http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/genetics/brca-fact-sheet)

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center:

How to help


If you are interested in volunteering with the BRCA Foundation, please contact Gail Fisher at (415)684-7441 or by email.


The BRCA Foundation welcomes your support toward our goal of eradicating BRCA cancers. Your donation will go toward research at any one of our investigator locations.

Not only is your cash donation 100% tax-deductible, but 100% of all cash donations go directly to cancer research. This is possible because of a generous donation made specifically to cover all administrative expenses.

How do I know my donation is going toward research and not administrative costs?
Thanks to a very generous donation made specifically to cover all administrative costs, 100% of all monies donated will go toward research.


A world where lives and families are
free of threat of BRCA cancers.


To accelerate research and foster collaboration in order to prevent and cure BRCA cancers.