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Genetics of Breast Cancer

BY: Haripriya Munipalli | Category: Health | Submitted: 2013-10-01 06:20:35
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Article Summary: "The genetic reason for breast cancer occurrence is estimated to be five to ten percent of all the breast cancer cases..."


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Most of the cancers are observed to develop when the genes in the particular cells are mutated and when these changed genes result in the formation of no protein or faulty protein. The function of the abnormal protein will alter, when it is different from the normal protein. The altered function will cause the cell to multiply without any control and hence it turns cancerous. The defective gene might be inherited and present in all the cells or the gene in a single cell might get altered during the life time. This changed cell might multiply and give rise to cells that have defective genes. This type of mutation is called as somatic mutation. Somatic mutations can be caused by smoking or environmental factors.

About 90 to 95 percent of breast cancers are called as sporadic. The sporadic disease might arise when the genes become defective by chance after the person is born and the genes may not get inherited to the children and hence has no risk of generating the problem in children. The breast cancer related gene mutations that are inherited are less common.

It is estimated that about five to ten percent of all breast cancers are genetically originated. Breast cancer occurring in certain ethnic communities like Ashkenazi Jewish heritage, Norwegian, Dutch and Iceland are mostly associated with the mutations in the breast cancer related genes. The mutations in these genes commonly occur in the above mentioned groups as they share the ancestry for several generations.

In the United Kingdom, it is observed that the percentage risk of developing breast cancer in the given lifetime of a woman is ten percent. By the age of 80 years, 10 women among 100 are observed to be developing breast cancer. The person might encounter breast cancer even if the gene is not mutated. If more than one in a family has breast cancer, it does not mean that mutated genes are present. Breast cancer might occur due to mere chance. If the breast cancer gene having mutation is present in a person it may not always cause breast cancer. But, the person having mutated gene is known to have high risk of this disease.

The risk of developing breast cancer with the mutated breast cancer genes ranges from 50 percent to 85 percent. In 100 women with mutated genes, about 50 to 85 will develop the disease in their life period. The genes that are actually involved in enhancing the risk of development of breast cancer are BRCA1, BRCA2, TP53, STK11, and CDH1. Some more genes that are also found to be involved in causing breast cancer are ATM, ERBB2, RAD51, AR, BARD1, CHEK2, PALB2, RAD50, DIRAS3, NBN and BRIP1.
If a woman is detected with breast cancer and if she has the family history of breast or ovarian cancers, she will have to give the blood tests to check for the presence of defective gene. If the faulty gene is found then she will have higher risk of developing breast cancer or ovarian cancer. If the woman does not have breast cancer also she can undergo tests to check for the presence of faulty gene if any of the family members had the disease. A simple genetic test for the person whose mother or sister had breast cancer will detect whether the faulty gene is present or not.

If the woman does not have breast cancer and has the defective gene carrying with her then there is high risk for her to develop breast cancer. Nevertheless, she can take utmost care in a few ways to prevent the incidence of breast cancer. Some of the steps she should follow to prevent cancer are not putting on weight, doing regular exercise and having good and nutritious diet. But, the risk may not be decreased to less than 50 percent in these cases. Some women prefer to decrease the risk of cancer development by removing their breasts and ovaries surgically. If both of the breasts are removed surgically then the risk of that woman prone to breast cancer will get reduced by 90 to 95 percent. It is also important to check if there is any leftover breast tissue on the chest wall that has to be removed completely, which otherwise might initiate the cancer.

About Author / Additional Info:
I am Hareepriyaw alias Haripriya interested in writing health articles.

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