In most cases of families with breast and ovarian cancer, the pattern of cancers in the family can be attributed to mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Genetic testing for these cancer susceptibility genes typically takes place in the context of comprehensive genetic counseling. Strategies have been developed for the medical management of women at high risk of developing breast cancer, including options for screening and prophylactic surgery. BRCA1 and BRCA2 carriers are recommended to undergo prophylactic bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy by age 35-40 years or when childbearing is complete. This surgery significantly reduces the risk of ovarian cancer and also reduces the risk of breast cancer when performed in premenopausal mutation carriers. For breast cancer management, BRCA1 and BRCA2 carriers are offered the options of increased surveillance, with or without chemoprevention, or prophylactic surgery. Currently, BRCA carrier status is not used as an independent prognostic factor regarding systemic treatment options.