Gene presents higher risk for Breast Cancer in some women - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

By Meghan Sparks

Gene presents higher risk for Breast Cancer in some women

ROCHESTER, MN (FOX 47) -- According to the American Cancer Society, one in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.  There are many factors that contribute to a woman's risk of developing the disease, but ten percent of breast cancers are thought to have a strong genetic inherited factor - particularly for one group of women.

Breast cancer can affect anyone, but information discovered about 14 years ago puts certain women at a greater risk.

Jewish women of European decent called Ashkenazi Jews have a greater chance of carrying a genetic mutation that increases their risk of developing breast cancer.

Ashkenazi women have a one in 40 chance of harboring the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene.

Mayo Clinic Certified Genetic Counselor Carrie Zabel says, "We know that those are the major susceptibility genes for breast cancer so that a woman who has BRCA1 or BRCA2 may face up to an eighty-five percent chance of developing the disease."

"It was pretty tough."

Mayo Clinic physician and Ashkenazi Jew Sandra Taler was diagnosed with breast cancer four years ago.

"I was very healthy and tried to do everything I could to take care of myself so it came as very unexpected and quite a shock," says Taler.

Taler didn't hear about the gene mutation until after her diagnosis, but had testing done to determine if other family members were at risk.  She found she does not carry the gene, but urges other women like her to be screened regularly.

Women forty and older should have a mammogram every year, but Zabel says women who do carry the gene undergo more rigorous screening due to their increased risk of developing the disease.

"For a woman forty and above who has a BRCA mutation what we recommend is an annual mammogram and an annual breast MRI."

Women who are not of Ashkenazi decent can also carry the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene, but have a one in 500 to 800 chance of carrying it.

The gene also puts women at a higher risk for developing ovarian cancer and if found in men carries a higher risk of them developing prostate cancer.

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