Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer amongst women worldwide. Breast cancer research has made some big strides in regards to the way the disease is being discovered and the way it is being development within the body. It has been estimated that about five to 10 percent of all cases pertaining to breast cancer are hereditary, due to gene mutations that were passed down from the parents to the child. The most commonly found cause for breast cancer in hereditary cases is BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes becoming mutated.
BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes produce tumor suppressor proteins in humans. These proteins repair DNA that has been damaged, thus playing a huge role in a cell’s ability to maintain its genetic material. If either one of the BRCA1 gene or BRCA2 gene is changed, altered or mutated in such a way that its production of protein is prevented or made to function incorrectly, the damaged DNA will not have the opportunity to be properly repaired. Consequently, the failure to correctly mend the damaged DNA will inevitably result in the development of additional genetic mutations. This occurrence could directly lead to the development of cancer.
On average, the chances of women with BRCA1 mutations developing cancer in their breasts are at a high 55 to 65 percent. For the women with BRCA2 mutations, chances of cancer developing are a bit lower, with 45 percent.
Researchers have reported that mutations amongst other genes also have been found to contribute to hereditary breast cancer, but the genes they have associated with the disease only amounts to half of the gene mutations that are possibly associated, but have not yet been discovered. According to Dr. Mohammad Akbari, from the Women’s College Research Institute at Women’s College Hospital and the University of Toronto, mutations in a gene called RECQL can also be a gene added to the list of breast cancer contributors.
Dr. Akbari supports genetic mutation screenings amongst women with the disease, because the identification of these mutations could assist disease treatment. He also stated that with these genetic mutation screenings, the future could bring treatment developments that have the ability to work around the genetic mutations that are linked to the cancer, giving cancer patients options regarding treatment approach.
Breast cancer research has made big strides when it comes to new approaches in discovery. Utah hospitals as well as Lakeview Hospital have been utilizing tomography, also known as 3-D ultrasound technology, for locating the presence of cancer in patients who have dense breast tissue. Dense breasted women will not be guaranteed accurate results from a mammogram alone. The scan is a woman’s best bet to confirm mammogram results.
The first breast cancer patient to use the new Automated Breast Ultrasound System at Utah Hospital was 82-year-old Nancy Asay. Even though Asay had been given all her mammograms, the scanners were unable to detect the cancer due to her dense breast tissue, which happens to be a hereditary physical attribute that is found in about 46 percent of all women.
According to Lakeview Hospital’s radiologist, Dr. Jose Perez-Tamayo, dense breast tissue is caused by greater amounts of connective tissue, or stroma. Stroma looks like white wisps on mammograms and if there is an abundance of these wisps, they can hide cells that could potentially be cancerous, which show up as white clusters.
Tomography uses sound waves, similar to the way sonar is used on ships, to discover the presence of cancer in dense breasts. The Automated Breast Ultrasound System scan runs anywhere between $200 to $300, which is a lot less pressure on wallets, compared to the price of MRIs, which could run over $1,000.
Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer amongst women, but the research regarding the disease has made some big strides. Mammograms do not always provide women with accurate results. The price of getting the additional breast cancer test is a lot less than the price women could be paying without it.
By Kameron Hadley
Photo By crafty_dame– Creativecommons Flickr License