Saturday, March 3, 2018

Everyone has BRCA genes

Everyone has BRCA genes

BRCA stands for "BReast CAncer". It is the inherited mutation of the BRCA gene that can increase the risk for developing cancers. BRCA1 gene is located on chromosome 17 and BRCA2 gene is located on chromosome 11.

The mechanism for cancer occurs when breaks in DNA strands develop during DNA replication, which is a prerequisite to cell division. These breaks eventuate when the replication fork that duplicates the genome stalls at sites of DNA damage. Genomic instability results when these breaks are not repaired properly, which leads to cancer and other diseases.

BRCA genes are tumor suppressor genes that inhibit tumor development when functioning normally. When there is a mutation in the gene that suppresses tumors, the genes do not function normally. and the potential for these tumors to occur is increased. Women with a mutation of the BRCA1 gene and/or BRCA2 gene have a 40-80% chance of developing breast cancer. Mutations in BRCA genes may cause as many as 10-40% of inherited breast cancers and lead to a higher risk for developing ovarian, colon, pancreatic and uterine cancers. 

Mutations in the genes ATM, CDH1, CHEK2, NBN, NF1, PALB2, PTEN, STK11, TP53 can also increase the risk of breast cancer. Most breast cancers are not caused by genetic factors and you may still be at risk if you are negative to the BRCA mutation. Family history, and environmental causes are other risk factors for developing cancers. 

While 5-10% of breast cancers in women are thought to be due to gene mutations, up to 40% of breast cancers in men may be related to BRCA2 mutations, and men who have a BRCA1/2 mutation have an increased risk of prostate cancer.

Whether you test positive or negative for the BRCA gene mutation, there will always be a potential risk for cancers. Early detection for cancer is a goal in order to initiate early treatment. 

As we discover more about the genetic and non-genetic causes, why and how cancers occur, treatments and cures can be developed. The future for our world to eradicate cancers and all diseases rely on what we do with this knowledge. Please support cancer research.


Screening & Early Detection References. (n.d.). Retrieved March 03, 2018, from