Mutated gene increases women's chance for breast cancer by threefold
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
8/7/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
A new study has found that mutated versions of a gene called PALB2 can dramatically increase a woman's risk of breast cancer. Researchers say that women carrying the PALB2 mutation have a one in three chance of developing breast cancer by the age of 70.
Doctors also could recommend more aggressive surveillance for breast cancer, such as annual mammograms or MRI breast screening.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - British researchers in the latest issue of the New England Journal of Medicine say that the risk is even higher for women with a family history of breast cancer, the investigators found.
"If a mutation carrier has a strong family history, the risk would go up to about six in 10 by age 70," senior study author Marc Tischkowitz, a researcher with the department of medical genetics at the University of Cambridge, says.
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PALB2, with this new information, has been placed just behind the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes as a top genetic risk factor for breast cancer, Tischkowitz adds.
Women who carry a mutated form of either of the BRCA genes have a 45 percent to 65 percent risk of breast cancer by age 70, according to the U.S. National Cancer Institute.
The PALB2 gene was first identified by researchers in 2006, and it was further associated with breast cancer in a study published in 2007, Tischkowitz said.
The new research proves the first solid evidence regarding the breast cancer risk associated with PALB2. According to Dr. Roger Greenberg, an associate professor of cancer biology with the Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute, this discovery empowers women who are susceptible to breast cancer.
"She can better make that decision based on the likelihood she could get cancer," Greenberg said. "I would frame it as a very relevant question for PALB2 carriers."
Armed with this knowledge, Greenberg says, women with a PALB2 mutation can talk with their doctor about whether they should undergo a mastectomy to reduce their breast cancer risk. Such surgery has been shown to reduce cancer risk by 90 percent.
Doctors also could recommend more aggressive surveillance for breast cancer, such as annual mammograms or MRI breast screening, Tischkowitz said.
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