Women are beginning to get a better idea of the risk of developing breast cancer in their bodies when they go to their local mammography clinic.
The results, from a study published Monday in the journal BMC Cancer, are a first step toward finding the specific genetic variations that may be causing these tumors.
A study in mice led by a researcher at Johns Hopkins University, the National Institutes of Health and the University of California, Davis, looked at genetic variations in the BRCA1 and BRCAs2 genes and found that some patients have higher levels of a gene known as BRCAF1 than others.
The researchers say that gene, known as CTCN, has been associated with breast cancer risk.
The new study is the first to look at genetic variation in breast cancers in humans.
“We want to understand what makes a woman’s breast different from her body’s,” said lead study author Dr. Katherine McNeil, a postdoctoral researcher in the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics at Johns Kearns Cancer Center at the University.
“This is a first-in-human study of genetic variation that might be associated with the risk for breast cancers, but it’s also important for understanding the risk and the treatment options for patients with breast cancers,” she said.
The researchers also looked at a gene called BRCAL, which has been linked to breast cancer.
The results, in mice, suggest that a person with the BAC2 gene has about a 30 percent higher risk of breast cancer compared with mice that have no BRCAC2 mutations.
The BRCAS2 gene, found in about 20 percent of people, is thought to cause breast cancer but it has not been linked.
The BRCP gene, also found in around 20 percent people, has not yet been linked but may also play a role in breast cancer development.
The study also showed that BRCK1 was more prevalent in people with a BRCAK1 mutation.
The authors say that BKR1 may play a protective role in women with breast disease because it can interfere with the immune system and cause anemia.
The findings were a “huge step forward” in understanding the genetic differences in breast tumors, said Dr. Mark Gertz, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Johns Johns Hopkins.
“It’s a huge step forward, because it provides a more comprehensive picture of breast cancers that is not just based on the number of mutations but also the presence or absence of other genes,” he said.
In a separate study, a study led by Dr. Gregory J. Gorman of the University at Buffalo, New York, looked for genetic differences between women with BRCC1 or BRCT1 mutations and those with BKRK1 or not.
The result was similar.
The study also found that BKRK1 mutations were more common in women of African ancestry.
“A large portion of the genome is involved in the control of the immune response to tumors,” Gorman said.
“If a person is resistant to certain types of tumors, they may be more susceptible to developing tumors, but there are also many other factors that influence how the immune and breast systems react to tumors.”
The findings suggest that breast cancer can be treated with a combination of medication, surgery and therapy.
Gorman said the new findings could be useful for researchers who want to find out what makes some people more likely to develop breast cancer or what makes others less likely.
“For people who have a high risk of having breast cancer, the results suggest that they should probably be more active in their lifestyle and exercise and do more activities to prevent their disease,” he added.
The latest study was published in the March 2017 issue of the journal Cancer Research.