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Breast Cancer Gene Test

Submitted on March 27, 2012

Breast cancer is the fourth most common cancer that affects mankind. Unlike popular perception, even men are susceptible to the cancer since the gene that causes breast cancer also exists in males. The term breast cancer gene is a bit of a misnomer because it is a mutation in this gene that is actually responsible for the affliction. The gene that is responsible is the BRCA breast cancer gene. Further BRCA1 and BRCA2 of breast cancer are the two divisions of the BRCA gene. Mutations in this gene make this the breast and ovarian cancer gene. The likely hood that someone with a predisposition to breast cancer will also have ovarian cancer is nearly 55 per cent. This has made genetic testing for the breast cancer gene increasingly popular.

Why Breast Cancer Gene Test is done

Genetic testing for breast cancer probability looks at two genes BRCA1 and BRCA2. These are both naturally occurring genes and their basic function is to correct errors in normal DNA. Surprisingly, this makes them the correctors of potentially fatal errors in DNA. Besides this, they are also responsible in normal embryo development. When there is a mutation in either of these genes, the corrective mechanism is taken away giving rise to a number defects of which breast and ovarian cancer are included.

How to prepare for this test

DNA testing is a simple procedure and requires no special preparation except for just being there. The samples that are taken are usually from some part of the body or some bodily fluid that contains cells and DNA.

Procedure

A sample of the material which could be blood, skin, hair, or amniotic fluid – if the screening is for a fetus is sent to a lab, where the DNA material is separated from the rest of the cellular structures. These are then placed in a gel, and an electric current is passed through it which will reveal the gene structure and chromosomal structure. Genetic testing is not done in a suspected case of breast cancer. In this case, mammograms and fluid biopsies are usually the preferred approach. The rule when doing a fluid biopsy is that if there is a blood filled fluid that exudes from the site of aspiration, then there is a possibility of breast cancer. If the fluid is clear, breast cancer is not suspected. Most cancers in their initial stages are treated with estrogen and progesterone blockers, since the breast cancer cells require these hormones to grow.
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