(HealthDay News) — The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that women who are identified as being at risk for BRCA mutations be offered counseling and genetic testing, according to a final recommendation statement published online Dec. 24 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Heidi D. Nelson, MD, MPH, from Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, and colleagues conducted a systematic literature review to update the 2005 recommendation on genetic risk assessment and BRCA mutation testing for breast and ovarian cancer susceptibility.

The review indicated that genetic counseling increases the accuracy of risk perception; decreases genetic testing among unlikely carriers; and is associated with reduced cancer worry, anxiety, and depression.

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Based on these findings, the USPSTF recommends that primary care providers should screen women who have family members with breast, ovarian, tubal, or peritoneal cancer to identify a family history indicative of increased risk of BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations.

Genetic counseling should also be offered to women with positive results, and if indicated, they should undergo BRCA testing (Grade B recommendation). Routine genetic counseling or BRCA testing is not recommended for women whose family history is not associated with an increased risk for BRCA mutations (Grade D recommendation).

“We hope further research will improve the ways genomic science can help women and their doctors understand their risk for cancer,” Virginia A. Moyer, MD, MPH, of the USPSTF, said in a statement.


  1. Nelson HD, Pappas M, Zakher B, et al. Risk Assessment, Genetic Counseling, and Genetic Testing for BRCA-Related Cancer in Women: A Systematic Review to Update the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation. Ann Intern Med. 2013;doi:10.7326/M13-1684.
  2. Moyer VA. Risk Assessment, Genetic Counseling, and Genetic Testing for BRCA-Related Cancer in Women: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement. Ann Intern Med. 2013;doi:10.7326/M13-2747.