Genes and Hereditary Cancer
By Green Shoot Media
These mutations can cause breast, ovarian and other cancers, but not everyone who inherits the mutation will get cancer. HOW IT WORKS Everyone has two copies of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, one from their mother and one from their father. If a person inherits a mutation from one parent, they can still have the normal copy from the other parent. Cancer occurs when a second mutation happens that affects the normal copy of the gene so the person no longer has a properly functioning BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene. Unlike an inherited mutation, the second mutation is only present in the cancer tissue. OTHER MUTATIONS Breast cancer can also be caused by inherited mutations in genes other than BRCA1 and BRCA2. In some families with a history of breast cancer, mutations can be identified through genetic testing using multi-gene panels. GENETIC TESTING Genetic testing is usually recommended, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, if you have a strong history of breast cancer, a moderate family history of breast cancer and are of Ashkenazi Jewish or Eastern European ancestry, a personal history of breast cancer and meet certain criteria, a personal history of other cancers or a known history of inherited gene mutation in your family. Your testing should be paired with genetic counseling to help you get the most from your results. Having a family history of breast cancer doesn’t mean you have an inherited mutations. The CDC says that most women identified as being as having an increased risk for BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations based on family health history do not have the mutations. In fact, some women who the BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations have no known history of breast cancer. Talk to your health care provider to see if you’re a candidate for genetic testing and counseling to assess your risk for breast cancer. You should bring with you a family health history, especially if you have a family history of breast and ovarian cancer.