Negative BRCA testing not always lowers risk

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Women with a family history of BRCA2 mutations who test negative for the family-specific BRCA2 mutations are still at greater risk for developing breast cancer compared with women in the general population, according to a recent study.

“We found that women who test negative for family-specific BRCA2 mutations have more than four times the risk for developing breast cancer than the general population,” Gareth R. Evans, MBBS, MD, MRCP, FRCP, honorary professor of medical genetics and cancer epidemiology at the Manchester Academic Health Science Center at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, was quoted as saying. “We also found that any increased risk for breast cancer is largely limited to BRCA2 families with strong family history and other genetic factors.”

Researchers say that it is also likely that these women inherit factors other than BRCA-related genes that increase their risk of breast cancer. Dr. Evans says that there are 77 genetic variations that can help track the inheritance of disease genes within families linked to breast cancer risk.