Inherited faulty genes can increase your risk of developing breast cancer from 5% to 87%. Here’s how a simple saliva test for hereditary cancer could predict your risk and ultimately might even save your life.
Breast Cancer Risk – Do You Know the Figures?
One in seven women in the UK will be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime. But, if you inherit certain genetic mutations your risk of developing the disease is as much as 40 times higher.
Faulty genes are passed down through generations, meaning that you could pass on gene mutations to your children that were passed to you by your mother or father, or sometimes both.
The most common gene mutations are BRCA1 and BRCA2, which are responsible for breast cancer in nearly half of families with a history of breast cancer and up to 90% of families affected by both breast and ovarian cancer.
Faulty BRCA genes affect roughly one in every 400 people but certain groups are at much greater risk. If you are of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, for example, there is broadly a one in 40 chance of carrying the gene.
More recently, research has uncovered that the PALB2 gene also carries a high risk of breast cancer, almost as high as BRCA, and, less commonly, the TP53 gene.
Certain genetic conditions also make you more likely to develop the disease, including Peutz-Jegher syndrome and Cowden’s syndrome.
Knowledge Really Is Power
Knowing that you have a higher risk of developing breast cancer allows you to make choices to protect yourself. For some people this means making healthier lifestyle choices. For most it can mean attending earlier and more regular breast screenings to assess for early signs of the disease.
In some cases, people even choose to have prophylactic surgery, removing one or both breasts even before cancer cells have been detected to protect themselves.
Knowledge of your cancer risk also enables you to help your family; your children and grandchildren so they can take action over their health too.
If you do carry a faulty gene there is a chance they will too, so encouraging your family to find out the truth could also save their lives.
Hereditary Cancer Test | Breast Cancer Test
Myogenes offer a test that can identify 15 types of genetic mutations that increase the risk of breast cancer, including BRCA1, BRCA2 and PALB2.
They also offer a full hereditary cancer test that analyses mutations in 98 genes associated with 25 different types of hereditary cancers, including breast (which includes BRCA1, BRCA2 and PALB2), ovarian, pancreatic and colon.
What Does A Positive Result Mean?
“I’m not sure I want to know” is the objection some people raise to doing the test. But it is important to remember that a positive test doesn’t mean you will definitely get cancer. Other factors such as lifestyle, environment and medical history also play a part.
Knowing that you are at increased risk of cancer simply enables you to:
- take positive steps to protect yourself, such as monitoring your health carefully
- taking proactive steps to improve your health and wellbeing
- attending for regular cancer screening, before the required age
- talk to your children about their risk.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month | October 2018
To mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month, women are being urged to attend for routine breast cancer screening appointments and to check their breasts regularly for any changes.
Detecting breast cancer in its earliest stages significantly increases your chance of successful treatment.
Having a genetic test can arm you with important facts about your individual risk of developing the disease too.
Talk to your doctor, particularly if you have a family history of breast cancer or believe you may be at risk.