Most breast cancers are found in women who are 50 years old or older, but about 9,000 women who are younger than 40 years old are diagnosed with breast cancer each year in the United States. In this younger group, breast cancer is generally more aggressive, found at a later stage, and has lower survival rates.
BRCA1 and BRCA2 Genes
Two genes influence risk for breast cancer: BRCA1 and BRCA2. All men and women have these genes. Normally, they help protect you from getting cancer. But when one or both of them have amutation (change), they increase your breast and ovarian cancer risk. Without treatment, women with a BRCA gene mutation are seven times more likely to get breast cancer and 30 times more likely to get ovarian cancer before age 70 than other women.
Not everyone with a BRCA gene mutation will get breast or ovarian cancer. In fact, most cases occur in women who do not have a BRCA gene mutation; they should follow recommended breast cancer screening guidelines.
Learn your family history of cancer. If you think you may have a BRCA gene mutation, talk to your doctor about it. Your doctor can refer you for genetic counseling and testing to find out for sure if you have a BRCA gene mutation. If you do, you can take important steps to reduce your risk.
Know:BRCA Education Initiative
The Know:BRCA education initiative aims to build awareness about how BRCA gene mutations affect risk for breast and ovarian cancer. It was authorized by the Education and Awareness Requires Learning Young (EARLY) Act, section 10413 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Public Law 111-148). The EARLY Act authorizes CDC to develop initiatives to increase knowledge of breast health and breast cancer among women, particularly among those under age 40 and those at higher risk for developing the disease.
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