Angelina Jolie, a Hollywood icon of femininity, has chosen to undergo a double breast removal to reduce her heightened risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer. In her own article she explained this week why she chose to make this difficult decision. Here we talk about the BRCA gene, how it works and how a BRCA gene mutation can increase the risks of developing breast cancer.
What is the BRCA gene?
The BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes work together to maintain the stability of DNA and regulate the growth of cells. The BRCA genes are in a group of genes known as tumor suppressors, as they help to stop cells from growing out of control. If these genes are mutated, cell growth and reproduction can go out of control, which can lead to cancer.
How does a BRCA1 or BRAC2 gene mutation affect cancer risks?
Not all genetic mutations are harmful; in fact some can be beneficial whilst others have no impact at all on the individual’s health. Some mutations, however, can increase a person’s risks of developing some diseases, including cancer.
If a woman has a harmful mutation of the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, her chances of developing breast cancer or ovarian cancer within her lifetime is increased. In addition, the presence of a harmful BRCA1 mutation can increase a woman’s risk of cervical, uterine, pancreatic and colon cancer, whilst a BRCA2 harmful mutation can increase the risk of pancreatic, stomach, gallbladder and bile duct cancer as well as melanoma.
It’s not just women who are affected by a harmful BRCA mutation. Men with a harmful mutation have an increased risk of developing breast cancer too, as well as testicular cancer, pancreatic cancer and prostate cancer. These risks are more heavily associated with the BRAC2 gene than the BRAC1 gene.
Cutting the Risks
On average, women who have inherited the harmful BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation have around a 60% chance of developing breast cancer and around a 40% chance of developing ovarian cancer. Angelina’s examinations showed that her chances of developing breast cancer were 87%, ovarian cancer 50%.
Although the decision to have both of her breasts removed was a very tough one, Angelina’s breast cancer risks have now been reduced to 5%. Because of this, Angelina says that she is very happy with the decision that she made, and the knowledge that her children are much less likely to lose their Mom to breast cancer.
What Can You Do?
There are many lifestyle changes that we can all make to reduce our chances of developing cancer. However, we can’t change our DNA. If you have a strong family history of breast cancer, it is worth being tested for BRCA mutations. If you have been diagnosed with cancer it is important that you assess all of the treatment options available to you so that you can make the best decision for you and for your family.
Alternative Cancer Treatment Mexico is part of Angeles Health, Mexico’s largest network of private hospitals. Providing medical care and attention to thousands of patients, from , to cosmetic surgery, to bone marrow transplants, we offer patients the very best of medical care and the latest medical breakthroughs, allowing them the peace of mind they need to continue throughout their journey to good health.
If you would like to know more about our alternative breast cancer treatment program, contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation.