Health Questions and Answers

Question: How are high-risk women identified?

Answer:

The primary care physician must identify high-risk patients who may have a mutation in a dominant breast cancer susceptibility gene. Such families have a history of breast or ovarian cancer in as many as half of all female relatives, with early age of onset and/or bilateral or multifocal disease. These patients have been shown to have a high incidence of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes on chromosome 17 and 13, respectively. Patients with these gene mutations have been shown to have a cumulative lifetime risk of breast cancer ranging up to 87%.

Reference: Tannock IF, Hill RP (eds): The Basic Science of Oncology, 3rd ed. New York, McGraw-Hill, 1998.

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