BRCA: The Breast Cancer Gene - Myogenes

BRCA: The Breast Cancer Gene

Oct 5, 2022

Genes: What Are They?

Each person’s DNA contains the code responsible for building and maintaining the human body. A gene is a small section of DNA that codes for a particular trait. Those with naturally red hair, for example, have a gene that causes their hair to be red.

Genes are responsible for passing down all inherited traits. A person has two copies of every gene: one from each parent. A parent’s genetic traits have a 50% chance of being passed down to their children since each parent transmits exactly half of their genes.

What Is BRCA?

The name “BRCA” is an abbreviation for “BReast CAncer gene.” The BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes affect a person’s chance of developing breast cancer.

BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are present in every human being. As opposed to what their names might suggest, BRCA genes do not cause breast cancer. In fact, they normally help prevent breast cancer from occurring. Because they repair DNA breaks that can lead to cancer and the uncontrolled growth of tumours, BRCA genes are considered tumour suppressors.

Sometimes these tumour suppression genes malfunction. When a gene malfunctions, it doesn’t function efficiently. This is known as a gene mutation.

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BRCA Mutations

1 in 400 people (0.25% of the population) carries a mutated BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene.¹ These mutations occur when the DNA that makes up the gene is damaged.

Mutations in the BRCA gene reduce the ability of the gene to repair damaged DNA and prevent breast cancer. As a consequence, people with mutated BRCA genes are more likely to develop breast cancer and to develop it at a younger age. Mutated genes can also be passed on from parents to their children.

Risks associated with BRCA mutations

It is estimated that one in eight women, or approximately 12%, will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. ²

However, women with certain genetic mutations are at higher risk of developing breast cancer over their lifetimes. Approximately 55% to 65% of women with the BRCA1 mutation will develop the disease before they turn 70.

Approximately 45% of women with a BRCA2 mutation will develop breast cancer by age 70.

After overcoming breast cancer with treatment, women with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation appear to be more likely to develop a second cancer. A BRCA1 mutation increases the risk of breast cancers that are triple-negative, which are more aggressive and difficult to treat.

You may find these statistics alarming. However, it’s important to note that less than 10% of women diagnosed with breast cancer have a BRCA mutation. With early detection, the vast majority of breast cancer cases can be successfully treated—and that’s true even for people who have a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation.

The Myogenes Hereditary Cancer Test can help determine If you or a loved one are at an increased risk of cancer through a genetic mutation.

To speak to one of our advisors today, call us on 020 837 1266 or email