Genetic risk factors
The presence of BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations is the leading risk factor for inherited breast and ovarian cancers. These genes produce what is called a tumor suppression protein. These proteins help fix DNA “mistakes”. When either of the BRCA genes is altered (mutated), their production of protein gets out of whack and normal DNA repair ceases. Affected cells can then “grow out of control” and lead to cancer.
These mutated BRCA cells can be readily found in human blood or saliva and identified through genetic testing. Diagnosing the presence of these mutations provides treatment control for the patient. Treatment options for BRCA1 and 2 are chemotherapy and/or surgical steps to lower future cancer risks.
Mutations in various other genes can also increase the risks for breast and ovarian cancer. Those genetic conversions can also be exposed with genetic testing.