Genetics of breast cancer

Cancer is one of the most common and dangerous diseases seen affecting a huge number of people all around the world. Cancer is abnormal multiplication of the body cells beyond its normal process. Cancer can affect any part of the human body like stomach, bone, rectum, blood, breast etc., based on the cells affected in the host. Among this breast cancer is seen most common in women and rarely seen affecting men.

Breast cancer occurs when the cells of the breast are affected, which causes the cells to divide and spread rapidly than the normal cells. This causes an extra growth or lump on the breast to form. This abnormal cell division leads to cancerous tissue formation. About 5-10% of cases of breast cancer seen are due to genes transmitted from the parents to offspring and rest breast cancer cases are proved to occur due to other various factors.

Genes are short segments of the DNA ( genetic material) seen in the chromosomes which is transferred from the parents to offspring. These DNA have certain proteins which helps in the body structural and development. Changes or mistakes in the DNA causes typographical errors, which inturn causes false cell growth and function. So when an individual with error tends to pass on this error to the next generation who carry forward their genes.

So these changes in DNA can occur  due to inherited genes or environmental exposure. Some changes in the DNA remain unharmful and just show alteration in some characteristic and behavior while some changes lead to diseases and known as mutation. The genes concerned with the structure and health of breast are BRCA1 and BRCA2 and mutation causes in these genes lead to the development of breast cancer. But mutation in these genes leads to development of breast cancer.

So what are the symptoms of breast cancer?

A lump of tissue growth is observed, a part or complete swelling of the breast, pain observed in the breast region and nipple, discharge from the nipple and nipple retraction are some of the symptoms observed. So, what are the types of breast cancer? Metastatic breast cancer,ductal carcinoma in situ,invasive ductal carcinoma,triple negative breast cancer,inflammatory breast cancer etc.

So by now most of you might have got an idea how breast cancer is caused? What genes are involved in it? In some cases breast cancers are seen to be accompanied by ovarian cancers. Familial breast cancer comprises almost 20%-35% breast cancers. The proteins which have been produced by genes BRCA1 AND BRCA2 genes mentioned above ensure stability of a cell’s genetic material, mutation in them and their pass on to next generations leads to formation of cancerous cells. Mutation in these genes are also seen accompanying ovarian cancers.

As every problem has a solution, even cancer does have a treatment. As the mutated genes passed from the familial can not be stopped but the mutated gene correction can be definitely done. Gene therapy is finding its effect in treating the mutated cancer cells and correcting it and removing the error in the gene chain.

What exactly does gene therapy go for in breast cancer? As mentioned gene therapy goes about by correcting the mutation in the gene change, to achieve this a nucleic acid based drug is delivered to correcting the error or destroying the cells leading to cancer. The prognosis of this treatment method is increasing in present time as the treatment has less recurrence chances. So what are the other methods to treat breast cancer? The procedure to be done is based on the stage to which breast cancer has reached. The 5 stages of breast cancer include

 Stage 0 – non invasive ductal carcinoma in situ

(Stage 1- Stage 4 ) – invasive breast cancer

Based on the stage of the cancer and symptoms, the treatments are planned based on the gene report. Surgery is another major option after gene therapy. The various procedures under it include mammaplasty, tissue expansion, lymph node dissection, lumpectomy etc after surgical procedure is done , the next step is the adjuvant treatment. The adjuvant treatment is done to improve the prognosis of the surgical procedure.

The procedures under it include chemotherapy, radiotherapy, targeted therapy , teletherapy etc. Some medications are also found effective in treatment , including estrogen modulators. As a woman is a multitasker, her body also undergoes multiple changes in her health during her lifetime and she needs to be well knowledged and ready to handle it.