Women with the BRCA gene mutation are much more likely to suffer complications related to breast cancer.
A new gene test is gaining popularity among younger breast cancer patients, and it may be about to catch on in a big way. According to a report from Philly.com, a new study shows that an increasing number of young women who suffer from breast cancer have been tested for the BRCA mutations that have been found to significantly increase the risks of breast and ovarian tumors.
The study, published in the journal JAMA Oncology, examined nearly 900 women who had developed breast cancer at the age of 40 or below. Of these 900 women, as many as 95 percent had been tested for the mutation within a year of their diagnosis.
Scientists were thrilled by the news – doctors have been recommending BRCA testing in women who had developed breast cancer before the age of 50 for a long time, and the recent study suggests that it’s finally beginning to pay off. “This is great, it’s heartening,” said Dr. Jeffrey Weitzel, the director of clinical cancer genetics at City of Hope in Duarte, CA.
While the study suggests a growing popularity for the BRCA gene test, it was not without its limitations. Weitzel explained that the majority of women in the study were white, educated, and had access to health insurance. He questioned whether a larger sample of the U.S. population would yield similar results.
Mutations in both the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are inherited and can contribute to up to 10 percent of all breast cancer cases, and as much as 15 percent of all ovarian cancer cases. Women who are diagnosed with either disease at an early age and identify these mutations have a better chance of proactively treating the condition.
Women with the BRCA gene mutations are likely to develop cancer in both breasts, and often opt to have a double mastectomy to prevent the further spread of cancerous cells.
A press release describing the details of the study can be found here.