The BRCA Gene: Angelina Jolie Took Action. But Most Women Won't Need to, Says ECRI Institute

ECRI Institute launches free resource center to educate consumers and healthcare professionals about the BRCA gene mutation

Jun 24, 2013, 10:52 ET from ECRI Institute

PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa., June 24, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- When news broke that actress Angelina Jolie had undergone a double mastectomy because she tested positive for the rare hereditary BRCA1 gene—which, along with BRCA2, increases a woman's chances of developing breast and ovarian cancer—many people must have admired her for making her private world public.


But it probably wasn't long before admiration turned to worry for many women.

The questions came. "Could I be carrying this gene?" "Should I get tested, just to be safe?" "What about my friends and the women in my family?" or "Will my insurance cover testing or treatment?"

ECRI Institute (, an independent nonprofit that researches the best approaches to patient care, today launches a free resource center of evidence-based information to help consumers, providers, and payers learn more about BRCA genetic mutations.

Compiled by analysts in ECRI Institute's Health Technology Assessment Information Service and Evidence-based Practice Center, the four reports in "BRCA Gene Mutation Resource Center" address risk factors; the populations for whom testing may be appropriate; the accuracy of the test; the evidence on preventive mastectomy and oophorectomy; nonsurgical options for prevention; costs; and whether insurers reimburse for testing and preventive surgery. The consumer guide is presented in a question-and-answer format.

"We offer this information as a public health service to help consumers and health professionals avoid confusion and spending time or money on unnecessary testing and procedures," says Vivian H. Coates, vice president of information services and health technology assessment, ECRI Institute.

According to the United States Preventive Services Task Force, only women with specific family history traits should be referred for genetic counseling and evaluation for BRCA testing.

"People can get caught up in the headlines, which can lead to quick, uninformed decisions," says Coates. "Many women may find that after talking to their physicians about their risks for the BRCA gene mutation, the best course of action may actually be to do nothing."

Each year in the United States, approximately 207,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer, and roughly 40,000 women die from the disease.

Patients are encouraged to share these reports with their clinicians, but ECRI Institute itself cannot offer direct assistance to consumers.

To access the resource center, visit Providers, payers, and members of the press wishing to learn more about ECRI Institute's health technology assessment information services may contact us by phone at (610) 825-6000, ext. 5310; by e-mail at; or by mail at 5200 Butler Pike, Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462.

About ECRI Institute
ECRI Institute, a nonprofit organization, dedicates itself to bringing the discipline of applied scientific research to healthcare to discover which medical procedures, devices, drugs, and processes are best to enable improved patient care. As pioneers in this science for 45 years, ECRI Institute marries experience and independence with the objectivity of evidence-based research. Strict conflict-of-interest guidelines ensure objectivity. ECRI Institute is designated an Evidence-based Practice Center by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. ECRI Institute PSO is listed as a federally certified Patient Safety Organization by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Find ECRI Institute on Facebook ( and on Twitter ( For more information, visit