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British Woman Who Has inherited Breast Cancer Wants to Spread Awareness

, brought her and her siblings up after her mother died, but her childhood memories are of fear, pain and suffering.

"I was told by a relative that because I was my mother's last child and had sucked milk from her breasts, that I would catch the cancer from her milk."

"I didn't miss my mother until I had my own children. Then I realised that you can't have a nice childhood without a mother caring for you. All my friends' mothers plaited their hair but I had to try to plait my own because there was no one to do it for me. I never had a woman in my childhood telling me that she loved me and that I was beautiful, like I tell my daughter."

McQueen has not undergone genetic testing because the NHS requires a living relative with breast cancer to be tested at the same time to confirm the problem gene. Most of her female relatives who contracted the cancer are dead, although she is considering asking her newly diagnosed cousin in the US if she is prepared to undergo testing.

She believes it was her grandfather who, ironically, died of old age at 110, who passed the gene on. He had children with several different women and the majority of his female offspring developed breast cancer.

Martin Ledwick, a cancer information nurse at Cancer Research UK, says that cancers where mutations of the genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 play a role are around five per cent of the 41,000 cases diagnosed each year.

"We've identified a couple of genes which we know are implicated in some breast cancers but it's clear that there are others which haven't yet been identified. If you have a large number of first-degree relatives with breast cancer, you don't really need to do a gene test. Women in this category are offered regular screening and some opt to have a bilateral mastectomy."

He says that women with a genetic predisposition to breast cancer are being picked up by health services much more often than
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