How Genes Influence Breast Cancer Risk

How Genes Influence Breast Cancer Risk


(lively music) – Right, now we’re answering your calls about breast cancer health,
from MedStar Health Experts, and we have Emily Kuchinsky here, who’s a certified genetic
counselor with MedStar Health to answer some of those questions. So the first question I have is, how much of breast cancer is inherited? – Yeah, so most women who are
diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history of the disease, as only about five to 10% is inherited. The most common cause of
inherited breast cancer are the BRCA mutations, which
a lot of people have heard of, cause Angelina Jolie and other celebrities have tested positive for these and had their breasts and
their ovaries removed. But it’s for good reason because they increase risk
for breast cancer up to 80% and also increase risk for
other cancers like ovarian, pancreatic, melanoma and prostate cancer. – Are there other genes that have been linked to
inherited breast cancer? – There are, in the last few years we’ve uncovered over a dozen other genes that are linked to
inherited breast cancer. So a lot of women who
tested negative for BRCA are coming back and about
four to 5% of these women are testing positive for
these other mutations. So it’s important to ask their physicians if they haven’t had
genetic testing in a while to be referred back, ’cause
they might be positive for one of these other mutations. One mutation that we’re
seeing in a lot of families is CHEK2 which increases
risk for breast cancer, as well as prostate
cancer and colon cancer. So men should definitely think
about getting tested as well, because they can start their prostate cancer screening earlier and both men and women can get screened for colon cancer earlier
and more frequently. – Now, what are some of those red flags in the family history?
– Yeah, yeah, we’ll first take an inventory of both
sides of your family. These breast cancer mutations are just as likely to
come down from dad’s side as they are mom’s side. It’s important to look for breast cancer diagnosed at an early age, so 50 or below, cancer in multiple generations and also rare cancers like ovarian, pancreatic or male breast cancer. This information can be scary to hear, but it can really allow us
to detect cancer earlier if we know our family’s at high risk and maybe even prevent cancer, so knowledge is definitely power. – It’s something easy to do to talk with your family members and figure out that family history. – Yeah, yeah, that’s the first step, and I think the greatest gift that you can give your
family is to write down that family history of
cancer and figure out, is it ovarian cancer, is
it uterine, is it cervical, really figure out that family history. – Perfect, thank you so much, and we’re answering your breast
cancer questions right now. Just call 410-671-070.

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