Breast cancer can run in the family: All you need to know about genetic screening to check your risk

Breast cancer is widely prevalent and is caused due to various risk factors including genetics. Go for the BRCA test to analyse your risk.
cancer recurrence
Radiation and . Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Grace Bains Published: 6 Oct 2021, 04:19 pm IST
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Ladies, if you’ve been watching The Bold Type, you probably already know how the show raises awareness about the strong link that breast cancer has to genetics. After going for a screening test due to discovering a lump, Jane Sloan, the righteous journalist, gets to know she may be carrying a genetic mutation making her susceptible to developing breast cancer. Soon, Jane takes the decision of going through double mastectomy to reduce this risk and ensure she can have a healthy future.

So many women across the world battle the menace of breast cancer. The World Health Organization (WHO) observed that there were 7.8 million women alive, who were diagnosed with breast cancer in the past 5 years. This makes this disease the world’s most prevalent cancer. While there are various factors associated with breast cancer, genetic disposition is a major cause of the development of breast cancer.

Breast cancer
Genetic factors may determine your risk of developing breast cancer. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
What is breast cancer?

It is a cancer that forms in the cells of the breasts. It could develop in the lining cells of the ducts or lobules, in the glandular tissue of the breast. It is not a transmissible or infectious type of cancer. Unfortunately, about half of breast cancers develop in women above the age of forty, without showing any visible signs or symptoms.

A few common signs and symptoms include the following:

  • A lump in the breast
  • Change in breast size
  • Pain in the breast of nipples
  • Colour or shape of the breast and nipples
  • Peeling or flaking of the area surrounding the nipple (areola)
Breast cancer
Genetic screening will help you understand your risk of breast cancer. Image courtesy: Shutterstock.
How can genetic screening help diagnose breast cancer?

The genetic testing for identifying risk posture with respect to breast cancer is called BRCA. It is a blood test that’s done to assess and determine any mutations in your DNA that could increase the risk of breast cancer.

This test analyzes the two breast cancer susceptibility genes, namely BRCA1 and BRCA2. Genetic testing is advisable and recommended for women who have a family history of breast cancer patients or show symptoms of their own.

On noticing any symptoms or on receiving knowledge of breast cancer patients in the family, visiting a doctor is a prudent approach. The doctor will examine you and assess your family history, and thereby recommend the BRCA test to you. In case a gene mutation is detected, you will benefit from a proactive diagnosis, and can initiate your treatment program along with the doctor.

Besides genetic testing, being one step ahead of such adverse situations can come handy, and a breast lump self-examination could be done periodically.

So ladies, if you notice any of the symptoms listed above, or are over forty years old, then do consider visiting a doctor to rule out any risk of breast cancer and seek advice on doing a genetic test.

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About the Author

Grace is someone who likes writing enough to make a living out of it. When she isn’t writing, you will find her having chai and reading a book. ...Read More

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