BRCA1 (breast cancer 1, early onset)is a specific gene found in a person’s DNA, or genetic code. Sometimes there are variations or mutations in a person’s genetic code. While some of these go unnoticed (harmless changes), others may have negative effects or put a person at risk for certain health problems. Harmful mutations in the BRCA1 gene (BRCA1 mutation) lead to an increased risk of certain cancers, especially breast cancer and ovarian cancer in women. On average, a woman with a BRCA1 mutation has 50-85% risk of developing breast cancer by age 70 and a 40-60% risk of developing ovarian cancer by age 85. The risk varies depending on the exact mutation, family history, and other genes which may modify the cancer risk. Men with a BRCA1 mutation may be at an increased risk to develop male breast and prostate cancer. Both men and women with a BRCA1 mutation may be at an increased risk to develop cancer of the pancreas. Individuals with a BRCA1 mutation require screening for these cancers more often. Some women may even decide to have prophylactic (risk reducing) surgical removal of the breasts (mastectomy) or ovaries (oophorectomy) before they have cancer, in order to prevent developing these cancers. Management and prevention options for individuals with a BRCA1 mutation are individualized based on other factors such as family history of cancer, personal preference, and other risk factors for cancer. To decide the best care plan for yourself, talk with your physician if you or a family member has a mutation in the BRCA1 gene. Talking with a genetic counselor or specialist may be helpful, as well as with other women and men who also have a BRCA1 mutation through support organizations. Genetic testing may be recommended if you have a family history of certain cancers or for certain ethnic backgrounds. If you are concerned that you should be tested, it is recommended that you speak with a genetic counselor.