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Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Inherited gene mutations linked to breast cancer

All cancers are caused by changes to critical molecular structures in the body called genes. These changes are known as mutations, or abnormalities, and they may be caused randomly, by outside influences such as pollution, smoking or sun exposure, or because they were inherited through the family line. Not everyone who is born with a gene mutation will develop cancer. Inherited gene mutations may be passed from either parent and may increase the cancer risk in both women and men. The risk from inherited gene mutations varies greatly, depending on the abnormality and other factors. 

Dr. Maurie Markman explains the difference between genetics and genomics. 

Inherited gene mutations

Some women have genes with mutations, inherited by one or both parents, that increases the risk of breast cancer. Inherited mutations known to increase the risk of breast cancer are rare in the general population, accounting for about 10 percent of all breast cancers diagnosed in the United States. Some slightly increase breast cancer risk, while others (such as BRCA1 and BRCA2) greatly increase the risk.


Last Revised: 06/08/2017

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