Family History of Breast Cancer Trumps Genes

Incidence among relatives is red flag, even without mutations
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 17, 2008 2:40 PM CST
Mammogram images.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Women with family history of breast cancer are at elevated risk even if they don’t have a proven genetic indicator, HealthDay reports. Specific mutations in the BRCA gene correlate with an 80% lifetime risk of developing breast cancer; women in a new study who had a family history of the disease, but not that marker, had a 40% chance of developing it. The average woman has a 10% lifetime risk of developing breast cancer.

Another genetic abnormality, apart from the BRCA mutation, could be responsible for the findings, the study's author said. The Canadian researchers tracked 1,500 women from 365 families with a history of breast cancer. "Now when we see families such as this, we will be able to offer better advice about their actual risk," the lead researcher told WebMD.