Outsmart Your Genes: Understanding BRCA1/2 Cancer Risk

When Angelina Jolie underwent a preventative double mastectomy earlier this year, this issue of cancer risk and genetics made front-page headlines. Jolie, who announced the operation in a New York Times op-ed, tested positive for the BRCA1 gene mutation and learned she had an 87 percent risk of developing breast cancer.

Jolie’s announcement left many women wanting to know more: What is a gene mutation? Should I undergo genetic testing? What should I do if my tests are positive?

Huma Q. Rana, MD

Huma Q. Rana, MD

“Only about 5 to 10 percent of any cancer is hereditary in nature,” says Huma Q. Rana, MD, a cancer geneticist with Dana-Farber’s Cancer Genetics and Prevention Program. “An alteration or a mutation in a gene does not equal cancer, it just means that there is an increased risk or predisposition for types of cancer.”

Rana and Dana-Farber colleague Ursula Matulonis, MD, one of the leaders of the Institute’s Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers, spoke about genetics and women’s cancers at the July 23, 2013 “What Every Woman Should Know” workshop titled “Outsmart Your Genes: Understanding BRCA1/2 Cancer Risk.”

Ursula Matulonis, MD

Ursula Matulonis, MD

Rana focused on the genetics behind hereditary breast and ovarian cancer, genetic testing, and reducing cancer risk.

Matulonis, the program leader and medical director for Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center’s Gynecologic Oncology Program, spoke on the use of PARP inhibitors in treating ovarian cancer, including updates on current clinical trials.

To view the presentation from Rana, visit Dana-Farber’s Slideshare page.

Make An Appointment

For adults: 877-442-3324

Quick access: Appointments as soon as the next day for new adult patients

For children: 888-733-4662

All content in these blogs is provided by independent writers and does not represent the opinions or advice of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute or its partners.

Latest Tweets

Dana-Farber @danafarber
Tips for Starting Difficult Conversations with Your Care Team: https://t.co/BzbpTfJ2N6 #DFCIpallcare #hpm https://t.co/X6sw716Jky
Dana-Farber @danafarber
Shaped by the Past, Pancreatic Cancer Patient Takes Things Day by Day: https://t.co/EBlUxvZEQn #pancreaticcancer https://t.co/G0ZrRAlv1W
Dana-Farber @danafarber
Francisco Marty, MD, led major study showing significant advances in improving safety of donor stem cell transplant… https://t.co/R9Q6K4odgy

Republish our posts on your blog

Interested in sharing one of our stories on your blog? Feel free to republish this content! We just ask that you credit Dana-Farber, link to the original article, and refrain from making edits that change the original context. Questions? Email the editors at insight_blog@dfci.harvard.edu.