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Genetic Linkage

New View of the Brink of Cancer May Validate Preventive Mastectomy

Women who have prophylactic mastectomies to stay ahead of a BRCA2 mutation may have made a wise choice, according to findings of a study just published in Science Advances.

 

Inheriting a BRCA2 mutation brings a 50 to 80 percent lifetime risk of developing breast cancer. But how does that population statistic shake out at a personal level? Is an individual among the 20 to 50 percent who won't develop the cancer? If not, how long can she safely delay surgery until just before the first inklings of cancer arise?

 

There's no crystal ball that can predict when cancer will begin, but Leif W. Ellisen and colleagues at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center are coming close. Their clever study detects genetic changes that happen before the effects of the underlying BRCA2 mutation kick in.

 

To continue reading, go to my DNA Science blog at Public Library of Science.

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