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Nurse at Hill Breast Center: BRCA mutation, not just gene, the cause for cancer concern

10:36 PM, May 14, 2013   |    comments
Dr. Colin J. Wells reads mammograms at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA in Los Angeles.(Photo: Dan MacMedan, USA TODAY)
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Actress Angelina Jolie's announcement that she had both breasts removed in February to reduce her risk of getting cancer generated a lot of discussion Tuesday about breast cancer and genetic testing.

In an op-ed piece in the New York Times, she revealed that she carries a mutation of the BRCA 1 gene that sharply increases her risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer.

Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner Melinda Hawbush said there are several misconceptions she often hears working at the Hill Breast Center in the cancer risk assessment and genetics program.

"One of the first ones is they will say 'I'm worried I have that cancer gene' and everybody has a BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 gene. The problem is, some people's don't work right, and that change in the gene or mutation can be inherited and that's what we are looking for," Hawbush said.

Hawbush said people often think that only the maternal side of the family matters when considering breast cancer risk when it reality both sides of the family confer risk.

And she said people often think that men cannot inherit risk or pass on the change in the gene. That is false.

In an affected family, all members have the same chance regardless of whether they are male or female.

It's important to point out that only a fraction of breast cancers result from an inherited gene mutation.

First Coast News

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