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Mapping the Breast Cancer Gene

Genes have been implicated in breast cancer occurrences for a very long time.

Today, BRCA1 and BRCA2 have been studied and identified as one of the body's first defenses against breast cancer.

BRCA1 and BRCA2 produce proteins that suppress the development of breast cancer while also helping to repair damaged DNA. Suffice to say that if either of these two genes becomes compromised, the resulting domino effect may result in alterations to cells that can develop into cancer.

Even with a casual look at the research, the numbers are striking.

brca gene statistics

Generally, it's estimated that about 12 percent of women will develop breast cancer sometime during their lives. But compare that to women who have inherited a mutated BRCA1 gene. The number jumps to a 55 to 65 percent. For those who have inherited a mutated BRCA2 gene, the chances for developing breast cancer hovers around 45 percent.

It is important to note that if your mother had the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation that doesn't mean you, too, may be at risk with 100 percent accuracy. But it is good to know, and finding out is a simple procedure involving a quick swab of saliva or a blood sample to have your DNA tested for the mutation.

With a negative finding you can breath a bit easier knowing that your chances of developing breast cancer have dropped considerably. If you are tested positive for the mutation, speak with your doctor about your options, and don't panic! Since catching the disease in its early stages is key to a cure, it might simply mean that you are a prime candidate for further testing or more frequent checkups.

Further study of DNA from breast cancer patients should shed light on which genes or sequences of genes are involved with changing normal tissue into tumors. The fact that all women are exposed to hormones or environmental factors that increase the chances of developing cancer, but not all women get breast cancer means that there are some individual responses that are different. If DNA analysis can isolate which genetic structures are responsible overall, that would be a giant leap forward in the study of this disease.


A review of basic genetics explains why genes play such an important role in disease prevention.

Humans have 23 chromosome pairs. Each chromosome is a chain of genes linked together. Each human gene is made up of a series of chemical building blocks (DNA) represented by letters. A (adenine), T (thymine), G (guanine) and C (cytosine). They control the production of the proteins that our body uses to build cells, organs and systems. The number and order of these letters or bases determine what we look like, and the diseases which we may be genetically predisposed to getting.

Last updated April 22, 2017

Elsewhere on the Web:

Breast Cancer Gene Database

Cancer hope over breast gene find

Imaginis - Genetic Risk Factors for Breast Cancer




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