How Much Does a BRCA Test Cost?


Written by:  Howmuchisit.org Staff
Last Updated:  August 14, 2018

BRCA1 and BRCA2 are the human genes that below to genes known as tumor suppressors.  If mutations were found in these genes, it has been linked to a higher risk of breast and ovarian cancer.   If a woman were to test positive, they will have a 60 percent chance risk of developing breast cancer in their lifetime, when compared to 12.5 percent in the general population and up to a 40 percent chance of developing ovarian cancer, when compared to only one percent of the general population.

If a genetic counselor suspects you are susceptible to breast or ovarian cancer, then they may recommend a BRCA test.

Primo Star by ZEISS - Your compact micro by ZEISS Microscopy, on Flickr
Primo Star by ZEISS – Your compact micro” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by ZEISS Microscopy

How much does a BRCA test cost?

The cost of a BRCA test will depend on the type of test you need and your family history, but on average, the costs can be range from several hundred to thousands of dollars, but from our research, the average test, when all is said and done with genetic counselor sessions, will be anywhere between $2,000 to $4,000.  A blood test panel on its own, with no other additional costs, can be close to $250.

The NPR talked about Color Genomics, a company that is currently selling a $249 test that can accurately analyze a saliva sample for mutations in the breast cancer genes, including the BRCA1 and BRCA2.  The test, aside from checking these genes, can also test 17 other genetic variants often associated with the increase in cancer risks.

Insurance companies, by law, are required to cover the costs of cancer treatments, including a BRCA test as long you have a family history of cancer and/or meet certain guidelines.  The costs, even with insurance will depend on your policy since the plan will vary in regards to your co-pay and deductible.  Talk with your insurance company for more information before paying for a test.  UnitedHealthcare talks about how they cover the testing.




BRCA test overview

During the test, a blood or saliva sample will be required and will commonly be taken at a local doctor’s office, hospital or laboratory setting.  With this sample, it will then be sent off to a third-party laboratory, where it will be analyzed.  The results can take up to four weeks, depending on the test being performed.

What are the extra costs?

Genetic counseling is highly recommended before and after the BRCA test is complete.  A genetic counselor will be able to analyze your risk based on your family history, and he or she will be able to determine if the test is for you, the tests you probably need, the accuracy, what happens in the case of a positive test and the emotional risks involved.

If the test were taken at a local doctor’s office, then be prepared to pay an office examination fee.

In the case of a positive test result, meaning you do have a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation and an increased risk of cancer, then you may need additional screenings, tests and/or surgeries.  Your doctor will be able to explain your risks and help you better understand the situation and costs.  Common options, if you were to test positive, could include a breast MRI, ovary removal, medication or a specific diet plan.

Tips to know:

The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends women, who have specific patterns of breast, tubal, ovarian or peritoneal cancer, consider genetic counseling.

A positive test doesn’t mean you will develop cancer, it just means you’re a greater risk.  As for a negative test, it means you don’t have the inherited genetic mutation, but it doesn’t mean you will never develop cancer; it just means you have a lower risk.

Dr. Kristi Funk says those who have two relatives with breast cancer older than 50 and/or at least two relatives with ovarian cancer of any age should definitely get tested.  You should possibly get tested if you have multiple cancers on one side of the family or have any cancer in your family tree.

How can I save money?

If you don’t have insurance, many hospitals, genetic counselors and labs have financial assistance programs for those who meet certain income requirements.  Talk with the finance department or your counselor for more information.  Some labs, such as Myriad, for example, offer no interest payment plans for up to 25 months.

There are many non-profits and government agencies that provide funding for those who can’t afford counseling.

In some scenarios, research labs may cover the costs of your testing if you’re willing to be part of the study.  To find a local trial, visit BreastCancerTrials.org.

If you don’t mind bypassing the genetic counselor, doctor’s visit and/or third-party lab results, then highly consider the Color Genomics option for $249.  This test, as explained by the website, will analyze 30 genes, including BRCA1 and BRCA2, to help women analyze their risk for common hereditary cancer.  This kit can be done at home with a saliva sample and sent off to their lab.  Once the results are ready, you will be able to download them online and bring them to your provider to help you understand the results.


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