Tag Archives: Mutation

Breast Cancer: Having The Gene Is Not Destiny

angelina-jolie-mastectomy.jpeg3-1280x960The recent news about Angelina Jolie and her bilateral prophylactic mastectomy has brought renewed attention to the high risk of women with BRCA gene mutations of both breast and ovarian cancer.

I would agree that Jolie’s decision to undergo surgery was a reasonable choice. It is well documented that bilateral mastectomy is one of the most effective ways to limit the risk of and mortality from breast cancer in women with a BRCA gene mutation, particularly when performed before the age of forty.

However, that’s not all there is to it. While family history can be an important indicator of breast cancer risk, there’s a critical point that often gets overlooked. Jolie’s situation and its extensive coverage have presented a tremendous opportunity for the medical establishment and Jolie to address a commonly held misconception that has potentially dangerous consequences – that the leading risk factor for breast cancer is a gene mutation resulting in a hereditary predisposition to cancer.

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