What Should I Know About BRCA?

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BRCA basics

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Everyone is born with BRCA genes. BRCA stands for BReast CAncer gene, but people with BRCA mutations have an increased risk of several types of cancer, including breast and ovarian. There are two types of BRCA genes: BRCA1 and BRCA2. Normally, BRCA genes prevent tumors from occurring by managing the DNA damage repair process. But when you have a BRCA mutation, your cells have to rely on other DNA repair processes that may lead to more genetic mutations. As a result, a damaged cell may grow and divide to form a tumor.

Certain mutations in BRCA genes are associated with certain cancers. The average woman with a BRCA mutation has up to a 70% chance of developing breast cancer by age 80.



There are many factors that can impact your risk of developing cancer. These factors include, but are not limited to, the genes that you’re born with, your age, your weight, and your diet. Although risk factors do not always lead to cancer, they do increase your chances of developing cancer during your lifetime.

Genes that you inherit from your parents may have mutations that change how they would normally function. For example, BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are responsible for tumor suppression. When these genes are mutated, their normal function may be altered. This means that tumors are more likely to occur.

Having a BRCA mutation is a risk factor for breast cancer and other types of cancers.

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Why Gene mutations matter

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If you have certain BRCA mutations, you’re at a higher risk of developing certain cancers. With this knowledge, you may want to consider scheduling regular cancer screenings. And if you already have cancer, knowing that you have a BRCA mutation can help determine whether or not you can receive treatments specifically for people with BRCA mutations. Because these mutations can be hereditary, knowing your BRCA status can inform you of your family’s potential cancer risk.

The only way to know if you have a BRCA mutation is to get tested.