BRCA2 (breast cancer 2, early onset) is a specific gene found in a person’s DNA, or genetic code. Sometimes there are variations or mutations in a person’s genetic code. While some of these go unnoticed (harmless changes), others may put a person at risk for certain health problems. Harmful mutations in the BRCA2 gene (BRCA2 mutation) lead to an increased risk of certain cancers, especially breast cancer and ovarian cancer in women. On average, a woman with a BRCA2 mutation has up to a 40-85% lifetime risk of developing breast cancer and up to an 11-27% lifetime risk of developing ovarian cancer. The risk varies depending on the exact mutation, family history of cancer, reproductive history, and other genes which may modify the cancer risk. Men with a BRCA2 mutation may be at an increased risk to develop male breast and prostate cancer. Both men and women with a BRCA2 mutation may be at an increased risk to develop cancer of the pancreas or an aggressive form of skin cancer called melanoma. Individuals with a BRCA2 mutation require screening for these cancers more often. Some women may even decide to have prophylactic (risk reducing) surgical removal of the breasts (mastectomy) or ovaries (oophorectomy) before they have cancer, in order to prevent developing these cancers. Management and prevention options for individuals with a BRCA2 mutation are individualized based on other factors such as family history of cancer, personal preference, and other risk factors for cancer. To decide the best care plan, talk with your physician if you or a family member has a mutation in the BRCA2 gene. Talking with a genetic counselor or specialist may be helpful, as well as with other women and men who also have a BRCA2 mutation through support organizations. Genetic testing may be recommended if you have a family history of certain cancers or certain ethnic backgrounds. If you are concerned that you should be tested, speak with a genetic counselor.