BRCA Support and Communication

Individuals and families facing hereditary cancer and cancer risk have unique informational and support needs. At the Basser Center for BRCA, we hope to answer questions and provide resources to help coping with news of a BRCA mutation or cancer and communicating with family members about risks, care and support. If you have additional topics or resources you would like to add, please email them to

Family Communication

Knowing your family history of cancer can help you to understand your risk. It is important to collect a detailed family history of cancer from blood-relatives on both your mother and father's side of the family. This includes your first degree (parents, siblings, children), second degree (half-siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles) and third degree (cousins, great grandparents, great-aunts, great-uncles) relatives. Collect this information prior to your visit with your healthcare provider. Use the attached form to help guide your conversations with your family members.

Family History of Cancer Collection Form | Antecendetes de Cancer en su Familia

One challenge of hereditary cancer is that the genetic information is important to share with family members who may be affected by it. As a result, individuals who are diagnosed with a BRCA mutation must consider how best to communicate this information to their children, siblings, and extended family members.

Basser Investigator Angela Bradbury, MD researches how parents communicate cancer risk information to their children, in the hopes of providing advice and creating interventions to help parents and their children understand and adjust to news of these risks. Read Dr. Bradbury's article, "Genetic Testing: Should You Share This Information with Your Kids?".

To reach out to close or extended family to share genetic information, family letters explaining your genetic test result can be helpful. Fill in the attached template letters and share with your family.

BRCA 1 Family Letter Template | BRCA 2 Family Letter Template


For some, connecting with other people confronting similar circumstances can be helpful. Many organizations aim to help people facing cancer, and several groups cater specifically to individuals facing hereditary cancer risk. Some organizations also provide financial assistance with BRCA testing and screening expenses. Below find organizations that work to meet the needs of people facing hereditary cancer risk and related cancers.

Basser center genetic testing support: The Basser Center was created to be a unique source of information, support and clinical care for individuals and families who are coping with risk or diagnosis of BRCA mutation-associated cancers, and an international epicenter for research related to the prevention and treatment of these cancers. Physicians, scientists and staff in the Basser Center are leaders in the study of these gene mutations and new strategies to cut their impact on both men and women. Penn is committed to improving access to genetic counseling for individuals who may carry BRCA mutations, and has limited resources to provide these services to patients in the greater Philadelphia area who may not have financial resources to cover testing. To schedule an appointment at the MacDonald Cancer Risk Evaluation Center, call 215-349-9093.

FORCE logoFacing our Risk of Cancer Empowered, FORCE provides support, education and awareness to help those facing hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.

Sharsheret LogoSharsheret is a national not-for-profit organization supporting Jewish women and families facing breast cancer and ovarian cancer at every stage - before, during, and after diagnosis.

brightpink logoBright Pink is the only national non-profit organization focusing on the prevention and early detection of breast and ovarian cancer in young women, while providing support for high-risk individuals.

Cedars Sinai logoResearch for Her A registry to link women with or without cancer to research opportunities. Women have cancers unique to their gender that have only recently been a part of clinical research. By participating in Research for Her, you can help make a difference and improve the health and well-being of all women. Research for Her is a large data registry sponsored by the Women's Cancer Program at the Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Living Bryond Breast Cancer LogoLiving Beyond Breast Cancer (LBBC) is dedicated to assisting you, whether you are newly diagnosed, in treatment, recently completed treatment, are years beyond or are living with metastatic breast cancer. LBBC also assists family members, caregivers, friends and healthcare providers to provide breast cancer information and support. As a national education and support organization, LBBC aims to improve your quality of life and help you take an active role in your ongoing recovery or management of the disease, regardless of educational background, social support or financial means.

HIS breast cancer logoHIS Breast Cancer Awareness is an organization created to assist men and women (girlfriends, wives, sisters & brothers, mothers & fathers, and friends), health care professionals, and anyone who is interested in learning about the risk, treatment(s), emotional aspect and stigmatism of men dealing with this disease. Founded by brother and sister, BRCA-positive breast cancer survivors Harvey Singer and Vicki Singer Wolf, HIS is a great resource for male BRCA carriers and breast cancer survivors who are looking for information and support.

BRCA Books: Sometimes reading is the best medicine. Many women and men have shared their stories about cancer or BRCA and some find that reading the experiences of others can be helpful. Other BRCA books provide extensive explanations of what the gene mutations mean and what options BRCA carriers have for management. We have compiled an Amazon list of valuable resource books related to BRCA. Do you have one to add to the list? Email