New Key to Breast Cancer Discovered

Understanding BRCA1 mutation may lead to new treatments
By Colleen Barry,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 10, 2007 4:57 AM CST
Nancy Hayes, 43, left, undergoes a digital mammogram as Beaumont radiologic technician Shayrn Schymick takes notes.   (KRT Photos)
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(Newser) – Scientists believe they've made a breakthrough discovery in why a certain genetic mutation can cause a particularly deadly form of breast cancer. Mutations in the BRCA1 gene are apparently linked to the loss of an important protein, PTEN, that checks cell growth, according to a new study in the journal Nature.

Between 50% and 85% of women with a BRCA1 mutation will develop breast cancer, accounting for up to 10% of breast cancer cases. The so-called "triple-negative" type of cancer linked to the gene doesn't respond well to current treatments. Scientists hope this finding will lead to new treatments.