Risk varies for women in breast cancer families

Women who have a relative with breast cancer linked to the high-risk BRCA genetic mutation understandably worry about their own risk. Now, a new study suggests that women who don’t test positive for the mutations are not at an extremely high risk of getting breast cancer, even if they have a relative with BRCA-related breast cancer. Their risk is similar to that of women with relatives with non-BRCA-related cancers, the new research indicates.

Women with a BRCA1 or BRCA 2 gene mutation have a 5- to 20-fold higher risk of getting breast or ovarian cancer, the Stanford researchers wrote. That means a lifetime probability of up to 65 percent for breast cancer, and up to 40 percent for ovarian cancer. Women who have the BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations and are cancer-free are urged to step up their screening and to begin it early, by age 25, among other measures. They may also consider a preventive mastectomy or ovary removal after childbearing is done. Read more…

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