Test Negative for Breast Cancer Genes? Beware, If Family Members Are Positive

Just when I thought it was safe to come out of the water . . .or something like that.  Diagnosedwith breast cancer in 2005 and 2007, I took the blood test commonly referred to by its initials, BRCA1 and BRCA2, to see if I had the gene mutation for the disease.  Of course, I'd already had breast cancer so the horse was kind of already out of the barn (oh, those mixed metaphors!).

But as breast cancer is also related to ovarian cancer, I wanted to see if I had the gene.  My grandmother was Jewish and many Jewish women carry -- or pass on -- this mutation.  Thankfully, I was negative, but the fact remained that I had developed breast cancer even without the gene, and now scientists have found that women without the gene mutation are not completely clear of getting the disease.

According to newswise.com, those of us not carrying the gene mutation may have thought our risk of cancer had receded. But that's turning out not to be true.  Just because you have a negative result on this test does not mean you're not at higher risk.

Women who are members of families with BRCA2 mutations but who test negative for the family-specific BRCA2 mutations are still at greater risk for developing breast cancer compared with women in the general population, newswise.com reports.

"If a woman who comes from a BRCA family tests negative for her family-specific BRCA mutation, her risk for breast cancer is considered to be the same as someone in the general population, according to the National Cancer Institute. But now it's been discovered that this is not always the case, according to the new study," newswise.com points out.

“We found that women who test negative for family-specific BRCA2 mutations have more than four times the risk for developing breast cancer than the general population,” newswise.com quotes Gareth R. Evans, M.B.B.S., M.D., M.R.C.P., F.R.C.P., honorary professor of medical genetics and cancer epidemiology at the Manchester Academic Health Science Center at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom. “We also found that any increased risk for breast cancer is largely limited to BRCA2 families with strong family history and other genetic factors. It is likely that these women inherit genetic factors other than BRCA-related genes that increase their breast cancer risk."


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