Risk of a second breast cancer can be better quantified in women carrying a BRCA mutation

Barcelona, Spain: The risk of a second breast cancer in patients with high-risk BRCA gene mutations can be more precisely predicted by testing for several other genetic variants, each of which are known to have a small impact on breast cancer risk.

Breast cancer patients who are diagnosed at a very young age, or who have a strong family history of the disease are regularly found to carry a mutation in either the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene. They are also at high risk of developing a second cancer in their other breast and may opt for a double mastectomy to reduce their risk.

Technology already exists to test for these genetic ‘low risk variants’ that each play a small role in breast cancer risk. The new research, presented at the 11th European Breast Cancer Conference, shows that this technology can also be used for BRCA mutation carriers who have already had one cancer to better predict their risk of developing a tumour in the other breast.

The research was presented by Dr Alexandra van den Broek from the Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam. She explained: “Women with a BRCA mutation are more likely to develop breast cancer when they


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