BRCA Gene Mutations: A Closer Look

BRCA mutations are associated with a higher risk of developing cancer, but you may be wondering why. Let’s break it down.

It starts with DNA

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.

The purpose ofBRCA genes

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.


BRCA mutations

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.

Let’s recap what we’ve learned so far about BRCA:

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


Knowing your BRCA status could be life-changing.

How genes impact your risk

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.