BRCA Genes and Breast Cancer


About one in 500
women in the U.S. will have a BRCA1
or BRCA2 mutation. BRCA just stands
for breast cancer. Without treatment, a woman who is a BRCA1 or
BRCA2 mutation carrier is seven times more
likely to develop breast cancer and 30 more times likely to
develop ovarian cancer before the age of 70. I meet with people who either have a personal history of
cancer or a family history of cancer and may be at
risk to develop cancer. In each of our cells
we have genes, they’re like little
packets of information. They’re like a code or a
recipe that the body uses to make proteins and those
proteins do a job in the body. They allow you to grow and
function on a day to day basis. BRCA1 and BRCA2 are tumor
suppressor genes so if there is a
mutation in the gene it can no longer do its job and suppress cells from
growing out of control, which can lead to cancer. We inherit half of our
genes from our mom and half of our
genes from our dad. So if there is a BRCA1 or BRCA2
mutation in the family it could come from either or
or both sides of the family. If a parent had a BRCA1 or BRCA2
mutation then you would have a 50 percent chance to
inherit that mutation. If you have a BRCA1 or BRCA2
gene mutation that means that you are at a greater risk to
develop cancer in your lifetime. That does not mean that you
will definitely develop cancer. Ashkenazi Jewish women
are ten times more likely to carry a BRCA1
or BRCA2 mutation compared to the
general population. If you are considering genetic
counseling and testing and want to determine if
it’s right for you, you should talk to
a health professional. Genetic counseling can help you
to make choices about whether or not genetic
testing is appropriate… Genetic testing is
not for everybody. …While it can be
beneficial in the sense that it can motivate you to
manage your healthcare better it can also cause a lot of
stress and anxiety. When someone comes in
for genetic testing it requires a blood draw. And the results take
about four to six weeks. When a woman comes in for her
BRCA1 and 2 test results we would sit down and talk
about the actual result and what it means for her,
for her family members, for her potential
children or future children. We would talk
about monitoring… …and management
recommendations for someone who were to test positive. One of the benefits
of genetic testing is to empower the individual
and gain enough information to make decisions regarding
their medical management.

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