Genetic Breast Cancer Risk Factors

Updated at: May 22, 2012
Genetic Breast Cancer Risk Factors

Genetic Breast Cancer Risk Factors: Breast cancer risk due to genetic factors should be known to women who have a family history of the disease.

Vatsal Anand
LatestWritten by: Vatsal AnandPublished at: May 17, 2012

Genetic Breast Cancer Risk FactorsAlong 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.

  • ATM – This gene is responsible for the repair of damaged DNA. Inheriting one mutated copy of it has been found to be linked with high risk of breast cancer.
  • CHEK2 – Inheriting a mutated form of this gene increases the risk of breast cancer two times.
  • CDH1 – Invasive lobular breast cancer can be caused after getting mutated form of this gene from the parents.
  • TP 53 – The abnormal protein produced by the mutated TP53 gene called p53 increases the risk of breast cancer.
  • STK 11 – Defects in this type of gene can be the cause behind many cancers and it also increases the risk of breast cancer.

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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