BRCA is a name derived from the abbreviation “Breast Cancer gene.”  Breast Cancer gene 1 (BRCA) and Breast Cancer gene 2 (BRCA) have been found to influence a person’s chance of developing breast cancer.  All men and women have two copies of breast cancer genes in their bodies – one from each parent.  Breast cancer genes are tumor suppressor genes, meaning their role is to produce proteins that help repair damaged genes in our cells, stopping them from becoming cancerous.  Deleterious mutations in the breast cancer genes cause these genes not to function correctly, resulting in the gene failing to suppress the formation of tumors.  People with breast cancer gene mutation are more likely to develop breast and ovarian cancer than the general population. Men and women with breast cancer gene variants also have an increased risk of prostate and pancreatic cancer, albeit a low risk.

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