My Genes? My Breasts!
With all the sensationalism surrounding BRCA genes and prophylactic mastectomy numerous women globally are perplexed and afraid. The human genome is made up of 23,000 genes and each of these genes control a specific process. There is crossover for these genes and there may be related expressions in different cells and systems of the human body.
BRCA genes are in the class of oncogenes. There are approximately 2,619 genes that have either direct or indirect relationship to cancer related expression. BRCA genes are not just related to breast cancer. There is entire spectrum of other cancers that BRCA is found in. A very informative peer-reviewed article below gives greater detail.
Will I really prevent breast cancer by mastectomy?
This may seem like a basic question, however, there are complexities. First, cancer doesn’t behave in a predictable manner. There are continued changes in the expression of cancer. Another example of this is with a gene / antigen / receptor expression unrelated to BRCA known as Her2nu receptor. Spontaneous mutations that once expressed a supposed predictable marker like Her2 can in a mutated offspring demonstrate the absence of Her2. There are research articles that discuss this phenomenon. Women initially tested for Her2 expression that was negative were found to be positive as the cancer progressed. Many women were disqualified from receiving Herceptin and the outcomes not favorable!
BRCA genes are not giving consent of removal of breast tissue or any other vital tissue of the body. It is not as simple as removing the organs where the gene expresses. This type of medical reasoning will lead to disastrous outcomes. Careful risk analysis, screening and profiling are necessary in concert with genetic analysis.
Don’t Panic or Fear!
Making complex decisions requires careful thought and planning. It’s not prudent to give into the current craze! BRCA is not the end all, do all, it is just an indicator, which may or may not be relevant or applicable in individual cases. Research your alternatives and carefully decide! In some instances it may be necessary to choose mastectomy but not always