Cancer Screening for BRCA Carriers
Published on March 17, 2016.



Part Three of a Three-Part Series by Norma E. Roth

South Jersey Radiology Associates (SJRA) knows that breast and ovarian cancers are most treatable when detected early and that early detection greatly improves the likelihood of survival. Women like actress Angelina Jolie, who carry a BRCA mutation, have an increased risk of developing one of these cancers, which is why frequent screening is an essential part of their healthcare.

Breast cancer screening

Breast cancer generally occurs at a younger age (diagnosed before age 50) in women with a BRCA mutation or other hereditary risk factors. Cancer screening tests for women at higher risk differ from those for women with an average risk. A woman at high risk should discuss with her physician the appropriate screening recommendations and develop a risk management plan.

Breast cancer surveillance for high-risk women will usually include:

Annual mammogram and/or MRI starting at age 25, or ten years before the earliest age onset of a diagnosed family member.
• Clinical breast exam (CBE) every six months, starting at age 25.
• Breast self-exam (BSE) monthly, starting at age 18.

Ovarian cancer screening

Because of its location deep within the abdominal cavity, abnormalities representing ovarian cancer are hard to detect. Ovarian cancer is commonly diagnosed at an advanced stage. As with breast cancer, a woman at high risk for ovarian cancer should discuss with her physician the appropriate screening recommendations and develop a risk management plan.

Based on the latest research, ovarian cancer surveillance for high-risk women includes:

Transvaginal ultrasound with color Doppler.
• CA-125 test, which measures the amount of the protein CA 125, a cancer antigen, in your blood. This test is used to look for early signs of ovarian cancer in women with a very high risk of the disease.
• Clinical pelvic exam every six months beginning at age 30-35, or five to ten years earlier than the earliest age onset of first diagnosed family member.

It is critical to remember that enhanced screening will not prevent cancer. Surveillance, however, does improve the chance of detecting cancer early, thus greatly improving a woman’s chance of survival.

Never skip your annual screening. For your convenience, our nine Women’s Imaging Centers offer early morning, late evening, and weekend appointments. Early detection is truly your best protection. Check our site at for hours and locations near your home or office. Then simply click on the 24/7 Badge located at the top of our site to book your appointment instantly online!

SJRA Blogger Norma Roth

About Norma E. Roth

Norma E. Roth, a breast cancer survivor, is a freelance journalist for health wellness and sustainable living. She is an advocate for annual mammography screening, believing early detection is the key to cancer survival. You can learn more about her at

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