A new study published in the journal JAMA Oncology reveals that young women with breast cancer are rushing to get screened for the BRCA gene mutation which has been identified to increase the risks of breast and ovarian cancers.
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Within one year of being diagnosed with breast cancer, about 900 women with breast cancer and aged 40 or under had been found to have gone for BRCA gene mutation tests, and many others are still going for the tests at the moment since health experts recommend that breast cancer patients who have not yet clocked 50 years of age go for BRCA tests.
Dr. Jeffrey Weitzel, director of clinical cancer genetics at City of Hope in California hailed the decisions of the young breast cancer patients to go for BRCA screening, saying it is the best thing to do in the circumstance. And since most of the women included in the study were white, educated, and with health insurance, he added that other categories of women need to be included in the study to make the research truly representative of everyone.
Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie underwent mastectomy or double breasts removal in 2013 after she discovered she had the BRCA 1 gene mutation which raises the chances of ovarian cancer, so she went ahead in 2015 to get both of her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed so as to minimize the risks of ovarian cancer. The media buzz that followed Jolie’s action drove many women to go for BRCA tests and to undergo mastectomy among other preventive measures.
The US National Center Institute disclosed that inheriting the BRCA1 mutation and having the BRCA2 genes is responsible for 5-10% of all breast cancers and nearly 15% of all ovarian tumors. Most women with the mutations always ultimately have risks for ovarian cancer and this is the more reason BRCA screening is advised for young women who get diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 50.
Dr. Ann Partridge, the senior researcher on the new study, and an oncologist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston noted that some women choose to remove both breasts after developing cancer in one breast while still carrying mutations of the flawed gene. And medical experts say it is better with women with BRCA mutations to remove their ovaries before they clock 40 because ovarian cancer cannot be prevented neither can it be screened through proper tests.