Of all breast cancers diagnosed, approximately 5-10% are thought to be linked to heredity. Genetic abnormalities passed from parent to child are most associated with the Breast Cancer gene one (BRCA1) and Breast Cancer gene two (BRCA2). Everyone has the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, but when these genes don’t function normally breast cancer risk increases.
According to breastcancer.org, you are substantially more likely to have an abnormal cancer gene if:
- You have blood relatives (grandmothers, mother, sisters, aunts) on either your mother’s or father’s side of the family who had breast cancer diagnosed before age 50
- There is both breast and ovarian cancer in your family, particularly in a single individual
- There are other gland-related cancers in your family such as pancreatic, colon, and thyroid cancers
- Women in your family have had cancer in both breasts
- You are of Ashkenazi Jewish (Eastern European) heritage
- You are African American and have been diagnosed with breast cancer at age 35 or younger
- A man in your family has had breast cancer
Patients who request genetic testing for abnormal breast cancer genes will be referred to their facility of choice. Stevens Point Cancer Center, a joint oncology venture between Ministry Saint Michael’s Hospital and Marshfield Clinic in Stevens Point can provide this genetic evaluation and counseling.