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New Gene Mutations Predict Risk for Breast Cancer

Recent advances have been made among researchers who study the functions of genes and genetics. They are revealing ground-breaking methods for predicting a person’s susceptibility to many diseases and disorders. It is now known that the BRCA gene mutations are likely present if your family has a high incidence of cancer. Here’s some more information from Westfield Home Care Assistance on this new research and how to possibly prevent your cancer risks.

When healthy, BRCA1 and BRCA2 act as tumor suppressors; however, mutations in these genes significantly raise the possibilities of getting breast cancer. BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations can be inherited by both men and women, but the risk of breast cancer among men is much smaller. Among women, both BRCA mutations can raise the possibility of breast cancer up to 85%. BRCA1 is harder to treat and doesn’t respond to the same hormone therapies as BRCA2. This is undoubtedly why actress Angelina Jolie underwent a preventative double mastectomy when doctors discovered she had the BRCA1 gene mutation. Before her surgery, doctors predicted that she had about an 87% chance of developing breast cancer. After surgery the risk was reduced to around 4%.

Unlike the above, PALB2 is a germline mutation and is not specific to breast cancer. It can also increase the susceptibility to pancreatic and ovarian cancers. But when present in the body with BRCA2 mutations, it can increase the risk of breast cancer by up to 8 or 9 times for those under 40, 6 to 8 times for those between 40 and 60, and 5 times for women over 60.

This is why it’s important that if you or a loved one suspect a problem to get tested. Testing for a genetic mutation is a simple process- a blood sample is taken and sent to the appropriate lab for analysis. It can cost anywhere from $300 to more than $5,000 depending on the extent of the tests. Be sure to check to see if it is covered by your insurance. Under current law you cannot be turned down or discriminated against because of a pre-existing condition.


If you or an aging loved one has already been diagnosed with cancer, the help of an in-home Westfield caregiver could provide some support, encouragement and much needed help with daily tasks. For more information on our specialty senior care, call 908.450.9400.