Genetic causes of breast cancer revealed in new study

PEMBROKE PINES, FLA. (WSVN) - October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and an international team of researchers have learned more about the genetics of the disease.

The genetic causes of breast cancer have become clearer thanks to a new study.

“Researchers from around the world got together, and they started comparing genetic material of patients unaffected by breast cancer from the genetic material affected by breast cancer,” said Memorial Hospital oncologist Dr. Aurelio Castrellon, “and they started identifying certain mutations.”

Researchers have found 72 new genes that increase a woman’s risk to develop breast cancer. However, Castrellon said, the new research doesn’t mean everyone should get genetic testing.

“The public needs to understand that even though there’s been a lot of genes identified, most [of these genes] have a risk of 10 to 15 percent,” he said.

The new genes do not have such a high risk of developing the disease when compared to the more popular BRCA1 and 2 gene.

Actress Angelina Jolie had the BRCA1 gene and had a double mastectomy to prevent breast cancer. She also had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed.

“Genes like BRCA1 and BRCA2 put you up to 60 percent,” Castrellon said. “But this is not something I think we should start applying to the regular population.”

Castrellon believes the new study will help those who have already been diagnosed with breast cancer pinpoint the exact mutation or it can help those with high risk factors.

“Patients have significant family history. Only if they do, and their physicians believe that they are at risk for being carried of a genetic mutation, then those patients should undergo genetic testing,” Castrellon said.

At Memorial Hospital West, they want to remind the public that if you have a history of breast cancer in your family, it’s important to get mammograms starting at the age of 35. If breast cancer isn’t in your family history, then mammograms are recommended at 40 years of age.

If you’d like to get involved in the fight against breast cancer, there are two American Cancer Breast Cancer walks happening this weekend. There are walks in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

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