"Genetic testing is recommended for people with a strong family history of breast cancer; either people who have been diagnosed early, in their 30s or 40s, or who have lots of cases of breast or ovarian cancer in their family," says Cummings. "Only about 5 to 7 percent of people will have the mutation."
However, Myriad Genetics argues that extensive genetic testing is needed to find all those at increased cancer risk. "Fewer than 3 percent of patients who carry these mutations have been identified to date," says Critchfield. "The vast majority of individuals have yet to be identified."
And Weiss says the campaign seems to be primarily aimed at those women who may have the highest risk -- those with a family history of cancer.
"Although breast cancer is pretty common, only 15 percent of women have a family history," she says. "Most people will be listening to the commercial and think, 'I don't have a family history. This doesn't apply to me.'"
However, identifying those who have a family history of breast cancer is only the first step. "Genetic testing is not a simple blood test," Hines says. "It requires substantial pretest and post-test counseling."
And some doctors and genetic counselors may not be up to the task of interpreting the results of the test and explaining them to their patients, Cummings says.
"Sometimes doctors don't know how to interpret the results which might mean patients have procedures that they might not need," she says. "Testing is not cut and dry."
Further complicating the issue is the fact that a BRCA mutation does not necessarily mean that an individual will develop breast cancer.
"Finding a mutation means that there is an elevated risk of developing breast cancer, but it doesn't mean that you will have cancer," says Hines. "And just because you don't have a mutation doesn't mean that you will not get cancer."
But finding a mutation could cause women to take sometimes drastic steps to limit their risk, from potentially expensive annual MRI screenings to preventive mastectomy -- surgically removing the breast before cancer can develop.
But proponents of the test say any knowledge gained through the test is useful, as long as a well-informed doctor is present to guide a patient through her best options.
And in the future, Hughes says, such screening tests may gain wider acceptance, even for other diseases and conditions.
"In the future, there will be genetic tests for other diseases such as heart disease and diabetes," Hughes says. "This will allow us to prevent diseases in high-risk patients or to detect them earlier at a more treatable stage."
ABC News Medical Unit researcher Dr. Susan Kansangra contributed to this report.