There are three possible results for testing for a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation.
If your results show 'variant of unknown significance (VUS)' this means that the test has found a gene mutation or alteration in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene but it's not known if it causes an increased risk of ovarian cancer or not.
The majority of VUS results are harmless differences in a person's genes, but if it has not been seen many times before it's included in the test report as being an unknown significance.
The proportion of women who are given a VUS result is decreasing as scientists learn more and more about the different alterations that increase the risk of ovarian cancer. It may also mean that your VUS is reclassified over time. As more is discovered about genes, there's likely to be further information about the VUS in the future and you may like to contact your clinical genetics service to discuss this in a few years' time.
Can my family members still receive a genetic test?
If you have a VUS, you will not be offered predictive genetic testing for the rest of your family. However, if you have a family history of ovarian and/or breast cancer, close relatives could receive risk reducing advice.
If a VUS is found, your family may feel more uncertain than before. You may find the uncertainty very difficult to understand or deal with emotionally, as it's less clear whether you and other family members have an increased risk. So it's important that you ask your doctor or genetic counsellor for support and advice about the options available to you.
This information is reviewed regularly and is in line with accepted national and international guidelines. All of our publications undergo an expert peer review and are reviewed by women with ovarian cancer to ensure that we provide accurate and high-quality information. To find out more take a look at our information standards.
Last reviewed: March 2020
Next review: April 2022