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New Genetic Findings Linking Breast Cancer to African American Women

New research suggests that there may be a more intimate connection linking breast cancer and African-American women than previously known; bad genes could be the responsible culprit. 

It has been found that 1 in 5 women of African-American descent with the disease already have an inherited gene mutation that leaves them drastically vulnerable and at risk for not only breast cancer, but ovarian cancer. 

To help explain this connection, here are some typical questions with the right answers:

Q: What are the genes causing this?

A: The two most common mutated genes are BRCA1 and BRCA2. Every person is born with two copies of these genes. A mutation in just one of these genes can put at woman at an 87% risk of breast cancer and 54% risk of ovarian cancer. There are 16 other genes that could cause similar mutations and risks, but they are much less common. 

Q: Why are African-Americans particularly high-risk?

A: This question is still being researched and attempting to be answered more fully. As of now, scientists know that African-Americans have a much more complex gene structure than other ethnicities, making genetic mutations much more probable. More comparison studies between ethnicities are needed for a complete answer to this question. 

Q: What treatment is available if gene mutation is discovered?

A: Treatment varies depending on whether the gene mutation is discovered before or after cancer diagnosis. If mutation is found after cancer diagnosis, then removal of both breasts and ovaries is recommended. If mutation is found before cancer, then more frequent screenings and tests should be done in addition to hormone blocking drugs in prevention (removal of both breasts and ovaries may still be required). It is also extremely important to let family members know of this genetic mutation, as they could be at the same risk as well. 

Please speak to your doctor for further questions or concerns. Stay healthy; prevention is key!

Sources: Huffington Post

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