Breast Cancer (BRCA 1&2)
What Is Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer starts when cells in the breast begin to grow out of control. These cells usually form a tumor that can often be seen on an x-ray or felt as a lump. The tumor is malignant (cancer) if the cells can grow into (invade) surrounding tissues or spread (metastasize) to distant areas of the body. Breast cancer occurs almost entirely in women, but men can get breast cancer, too. Cells in nearly any part of the body can become cancer and can spread to other areas.
BREAST CANCER MYTH vs FACT
I am too young to get breast cancer
Many women who under 40 are diagnosed
with breast cancer
Men can’t get breast cancer
1 in 1249 men have a lifetime risk of breast cancer
Alcohol is not linked to breast cancer
Alcohol use increases the risk of breast cancer
Only women with a family history of
breast cancer at risk
All women at risk, but family history increases
I have never had children, so i can’t get
Women who have never had children, or only had them after 30, have increased risk of breast cancer.
What Is BRCA?
The name “BRCA” is an abbreviation for “BReast CAncer gene.” BRCA1 and BRCA2 are two different genes that have been found to impact a person’s chances of developing breast cancer.
Every human has both the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Despite what their names might suggest, BRCA genes do not cause breast cancer. In fact, these genes normally play a big role in preventing breast cancer. They help repair DNA breaks that can lead to cancer and the uncontrolled growth of tumors. Because of this, the BRCA genes are known as tumor suppressor genes.
However, in some people these tumor suppression genes do not work properly. When a gene becomes altered or broken, it doesn’t function correctly. This is called a gene mutation.
A small percentage of people (about one in 400, or 0.25% of the population) carry mutated BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes. A BRCA mutation occurs when the DNA that makes up the gene becomes damaged in some way.
When a BRCA gene is mutated, it may no longer be effective at repairing broken DNA and helping to prevent breast cancer. Because of this, people with a BRCA gene mutation are more likely to develop breast cancer, and more likely to develop cancer at a younger age. The carrier of the mutated gene can also pass a gene mutation down to his or her offspring.
BRCA Mutation Risks
- It is estimated that one in eight women, or approximately 12%, will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.
- However, women with certain genetic mutations have a higher lifetime risk of the disease. It’s estimated that 55 – 65% of women with the BRCA1 mutation will develop breast cancer before age 70.
- Approximately 45% of women with a BRCA2 mutation will develop breast cancer by age 70.
- Women with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation who overcome their breast cancer with treatment appear to have a higher-than-average chance of developing a second cancer. This is called a recurrence. Cancers related to a BRCA1 mutation are also more likely to be triple negative breast cancer, which can be more aggressive and difficult to treat.
- You may find these statistics alarming. However, it’s important to note that less than 10% of women diagnosed with breast cancer have a BRCA mutation. Also, with early detection, the vast majority of breast cancer cases can be successfully treated—and that’s true even for people who have a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation.
Breast Cancer Signs and Symptoms
Knowing how your breasts normally look and feel is an important part of breast health. Finding breast cancer as early as possible gives you a better chance of successful treatment. But knowing what to look for does not take the place of having regular mammograms and other screening tests. Screening tests can help find breast cancer in its early stages, before any symptoms appear.
The most common symptom of breast cancer is a new lump or mass. A painless, hard mass that has irregular edges is more likely to be cancer, but breast cancers can be tender, soft, or rounded. They can even be painful. For this reason, it is important to have any new breast mass, lump, or breast change checked by a health care professional experienced in diagnosing breast diseases.
Other possible symptoms of breast cancer include:
- Swelling of all or part of a breast (even if no distinct lump is felt)
- Skin irritation or dimpling (sometimes looking like an orange peel)
- Breast or nipple pain
- Nipple retraction (turning inward)
- Redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
- Nipple discharge (other than breast milk)
Sometimes a breast cancer can spread to lymph nodes under the arm or around the collar bone and cause a lump or swelling there, even before the original tumor in the breast is large enough to be felt. Swollen lymph nodes should also be checked by a health care provider.
BRCA 1 & 2 available genetic Test options at biosytech
- BRCA 1 & 2 Full sequencing
- BRCA 1 & 2 Full sequencing, deletions and duplications