Along with age and gender, the genetic factors which can cause breast cancer are those which are not under your control. While woman and older people are under increased threat of breast cancer, the genetic breast cancer risk factors account for five to ten per cent of cases. These are a result of gene mutations or defects of the parents.
Genetics of breast cancer: Mutation of BRCA1 and BRCA2 Genes
The BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes of the cells produce a protein that prevents cancer as it checks the abnormal growth of the cells. In families with a medical history of genetic breast cancer, the breast cancer patient inherits a mutated gene from either of her parents. This gene prevents the production of the protein in the cells which stop the abnormal multiplication of cells, i.e. cancer. When this happens, the chance of breast cancer is as high as 80 per cent in the family members with a history of BRCA mutations.
The breast cancer risk factor of gene mutation affects mostly young women, in contrast to the other factors which affect women mostly in their old age. Moreover, the cancer due to gene mutation tends to occur in both breasts together rather than one of them. Such women are also at an increased risk of getting other cancers such as ovarian cancer.
The relation between breast cancer and your genes does not end with the BRCA genes. There are some other genes too which have an effect on the functioning of the breast. Mutations in them also lead to breast cancer, although these are very rare.
The breast cancer risk is double in women whose first degree relative (i.e. mother, sister or daughter) have the disease. If there are two such relatives with the disease, her risk increases three times.
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