Autoimmune Disease Management 101: Fighting Back

BRCA Genes And Cancer | Questions From Curious Women

In 2018 alone, it is estimated that more than 266,000 women will be diagnosed with some form of invasive breast cancer. Breast cancer rates have grown so high for women, that roughly one out of every eight in the female population will be diagnosed with the disease at some point during their life. These are some incredibly scary statistics to face when you are a woman, but what if there was a gene that could tell you more about your risks even before you were diagnosed? Thankfully, there actually is one specific gene known as the BRCA gene that tells doctors a great deal about your risks. 

What is the BRCA gene?

The BRCA, which actually stands for BReast CAncer, is a gene that should restrict the growth of cancer cells in the breast of a normal woman. However, when the BRCA gene is mutated or abnormal, the growth of these cells is not restricted, which means a woman will be more likely to develop some form of breast or ovarian cancer at some point in her life. There are actually two designations of this gene: BRCA-1 and BRCA-2. Some people refer to the gene as the breast-cancer-risk gene. 

How do you know if you have BRCA genes that are mutated?

One of the greatest developments in cancer research has revolved around testing for mutations in the BRCA genes. If you would like to better understand your risks of breast cancer or if you believe you are at risk, your doctor can order tests to determine if you do have mutated BRCA genes. These tests typically involve only taking a blood sample that is sent to a diagnostic testing lab that specializes in gene and DNA assessment and analyzation. Once the results have been determined, your doctor will bring you back to the office to go over the results. 

How much research has been done on BRCA genes?

There has been a plethora of research done on the BRCA genes, the mutation of these genes, and how these genes are linked to breast and ovarian cancers. Because people who have this gene can get proactive about watching for signs of breast cancer and lowering their risks in other ways, this could be the key to helping many women beat the disease. The research into the BRCA gene has much support, including backing from the Johnathan Gray Foundation, which to date has given $55 million in support of research. 

For more information, contact a foundation like the Jonathan Gray foundation.