DNA is hereditary material found in people and almost all other organisms. Genes are made up of DNA and give instructions to make proteins. BRCA1 and BRCA2 are among the many genes that you inherit from your parents.
Everyone is born with BRCA genes. BRCA stands for BReast CAncer susceptibility gene. Normally, BRCA genes prevent tumors from growing by repairing damaged DNA. When DNA is damaged, healthy BRCA genes will create proteins that help repair the DNA damage. This process helps maintain the stability of your cells.
When you have a BRCA mutation, your BRCA genes may not work the way they’re supposed to. So when DNA is damaged, your BRCA genes can’t create proteins that properly repair it. As a result, cells may grow and divide to form a tumor, putting you at an increased risk of cancer.
Healthy BRCA genes create proteins that repair DNA damage. This process helps prevent tumors from developing
When BRCA genes are mutated, they may not be able to fix DNA damage
Cells with DNA damage that continue to grow and divide may result in cancer
This means that having a BRCA mutation could increase your risk of developing cancer
BRCA mutations put you at an increased risk of developing breast, ovarian, prostate, and pancreatic cancer. Mutations in the BRCA gene account for about 15% of ovarian cancers, but there are other genes that can impact your risk of developing diseases.
If you want information about BRCA mutations to take with you to your next doctor’s appointment, download the BRCA Guide.