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Gene Mutations Up Risk for Cancer in Opposite Breast
Date:4/6/2010

Younger women with diagnosis should consider genetic testing, experts say

TUESDAY, April 6 (HealthDay News) -- Women diagnosed with breast cancer before age 55 who also have a genetic mutation that boosts their risk for the disease are more likely to get cancer in the opposite breast than are women who don't have the genetic mutations, a new study has found.

Risk increased fourfold for these women, who carry a mutation in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, said Dr. Kathleen Malone, the study's lead author, associate head of the breast cancer research program at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and a professor of epidemiology at the University of Washington.

That was the major finding of the study, published online April 5 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Malone said. And though previous studies found the same link, she said, the new one focused not only on high-risk women with genetic risks for breast cancer but also on women in the general population.

"My point in writing this paper is to make sure women had this knowledge, to understand what the risk might be," she said.

Most other studies, she said, actually found a higher risk than she did, partly because they focused more intently on women with the mutations rather than on the general population.

For their study, Malone and her colleagues evaluated data from 705 women who had been diagnosed with both a first breast cancer and a subsequent cancer in the opposite breast. The researchers compared them with a group of 1,398 women with breast cancer in one breast only. All were from a group of 52,536 women diagnosed with a first breast cancer before age 55.

The women were all tested for mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2, known to boost breast cancer risk, and were followed for 10 years. Women with BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations have a 36 percent to 84 percent lifetime risk of breast cancer, compared with a 12 percent life
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