Breast cancer awareness: What are BRCA 1 and BRCA 2?

Women and breast cancerThe BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genes are human caretaker genes that produce proteins, called breast cancer type 1 and breast cancer type 2 susceptibility proteins. They are responsible for repairing DNA.

The BRCA 1 gene repairs breaks in strands of DNA, whose helix formation is continuously being broken from damage. Sometimes one or both strands are broken. When both strands are broken, it is difficult for the repair process to know how to replace the correct DNA sequence. This can lead to the development of cancer cells.

It is estimated that two to seven percent of breast cancers and 10 to 15 percent of ovarian cancers are the result of an inherited mutation in one of two major hereditary breast/ovarian cancer susceptibility genes, BRCA 1 and BRCA 2. The lifetime risk for breast cancer, in the average woman is typically seven percent, but ranges from 45 to 90 percent for women who have the BRCA 1 mutation and 36 to 75 percent for those with the BRCA 2 mutation. Whereas the average lifetime risk for ovarian cancer is 0.7 percent, but ranges from 24 to 66 percent in the BRCA 1 and eight to 32 percent in the BRCA 2 mutation carriers.

Having this gene mutation is rare, but if feel that you need more information, talk with your provider. Agnesian HealthCare does offer genetic testing for this gene mutation and others related to colorectal cancer.

About Lisa Michels

Lisa Michels, APNP, nurse practitioner, works collaboratively with the Agnesian Cancer Care team helping patients effectively manage symptoms associated with their cancer treatments. She also works with Agnesian HealthCare surgeons and radiologists to identify individuals at increased risk for breast and other cancers. Her passion is in early detection and prevention of breast cancer, as well as monitoring the status of breast cancer survivors.

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