Breast Cancer Is Not All the Time Familial

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Women are not automatically endowed with a higher risk of getting breast cancer just because another member of the family has tested positive for breast cancer genes, or have suffered from breast cancer. This is according to US researchers last Monday.

This scientific finding is expected to bring comfort to women who come from high risk families after the study conducted last 2007 which suggested that having a relative, along, with BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation raised their risk of developing cancer. This is true even if they tested negative for the said genes.

“The results are encouraging and reassuring,” said Dr. Allison Kurian of Stanford University School of Medicine, whose study appears in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

In average, every woman in the US has about 12 to 13 percent risk of developing breast cancer in her lifetime. About five to ten percent of breast cancer occurrences are due to the genetic risks, and most of these cases ae due to abnormalities in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.

Women who contain these genetic mutations are about five to twenty times more at risk in developing vreast or ovarian cancer. Most of them undergo intensive cancer screening tests and do other precautionary measures in order to lessen their risks of getting this cancer. In fact, a good number of women tend to have elective surgeries and have their breasts or ovaries taken away to completely keep themselves from getting cancer.

As soon as these mutated genes come up in a family, other members of the family must also be screened. Traditionally, these women with close relatives who have had breast cancer were informed that they had about the same risk as women in the general population.

However, a 2007 study which was published in the Journal of Medical Genetics challenged the notion, and even suggested that women did not carry the family breast cancer mutation gene still had two to five times higher risk in developing breast cancer.

This raised the anxiety among physicians, patients, especially those women who have relatives that have been diagnosed with breast cancer, or have suffered from the said malignancy.

In order to take an investigation on the matter, the team of Kurian analyzed data from about 3,000 families with BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. These families are from the United States, Canada and Australia. After comparing the breast cancer rates among carriers and non-carriers of the genes with family mutation, they found negative evidence of an increases risk of breast cancer among tose women who do not carry the genes.

“It’s reassuring that we don’t see a signal for elevated breast cancer risk from women who test negative for a familial mutation,” Kurian noted.

 

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