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Are You Thinking About Genetic Testing for Breast Cancer?

What Are Genetic Tests Looking For? BRCA1 and BRCA2 are genes that produce tumor suppressor proteins that help repair damaged DNA. If either of those genes is mutated, any DNA damage may not be properly repaired, causing your cells to develop more alterations that can eventually lead to cancer.

Inherited mutations in these genes accounts for about a quarter of all hereditary breast cancers and about five to 10 percent of all breast cancers (they also account for about 15 percent of all ovarian cancers). If you develop breast or ovarian cancer due to a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, you’re likely to develop it at a younger age than a woman who develops nonhereditary cancer. You can inherit mutated genes from your mother or father; if one parent carries a mutation, you have a 50 percent chance of inheriting it. Certain racial and ethnic groups are more likely to carry BRCA mutations, including people of Ashkenazi Jewish, Norwegian, Dutch, and Icelandic descent. Research also suggests that Blacks, Hispanics, Asian Americans, and non-Hispanic whites may also have an increased risk of carrying these mutations.

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