October 13, 2006, Newsletter Issue #37: How Breast Cancer Genes Can Lead To Disease

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When the breast cancer genes, BRCA 1 and BRCA 2, were discovered in 1994, they were merely known to correlate with an increased risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer. Studies conducted since 1994, and scientists began to do studies to get more information about the breast cancer gene. It is now known that these genes are tumor suppressor genes which function to suppress the growth of tumor cells and repair damaged DNA, when these genes function properly. Mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA 2 might prevent cells from making necessary repairs, which in turn can lead to misread DNA and malfunctioning cells that become cancerous. The mutated and potentially cancer-causing forms of these genes can be passed from parent to child. However, inherited genetic mutations linked to breast cancer are that are not common, accounting for only about 5 to 10 percent of cancer cases.

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