October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a month dedicated to raising awareness about breast cancer, and learning more about early detection, prevention, and research.
Each year in the UK, there are approximately 55,900 new cases of breast cancer. Most women diagnosed with breast cancer are over the age of 50, but younger women and men can also develop breast cancer.
Breast cancer affects around 56,400 women and 390 men annually in the UK. Women with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene change have a 60-80% lifetime risk of developing breast cancer.
- - 1 in 100 breast cancer cases in the UK are in men
- - There are around 55,900 new breast cancer cases in the UK every year
- - In the UK there are around 56,400 women and 390 men diagnosed with breast cancer each year
- - Most women diagnosed with breast cancer are over the age of 50, but younger women can also develop breast cancer
- - Women with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene change have a 60-80% lifetime risk of developing breast cancer
- - Around 1 in 400 people carry a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene change
Genomics and breast cancer
Genomic testing is helping us learn more about the factors that influence cancer risk. These developments can help guide personalised care for cancer patients, and can help prevent cancer in family members. By understanding the genetic underpinnings of breast cancer, we're taking a significant step forward in the battle against this disease.
What are the genetic changes involved in breast cancer risk?
Changes in certain genes can significantly increase the risk of someone developing breast cancer. This includes genes such as BRCA1 and BRCA2, as well as other, more recently discovered breast cancer genes. The best-known breast cancer genes are BRCA1 and BRCA2 but there are actually a number of genes that can influence breast cancer risk. NHS testing now includes a panel of seven genes.
Gene changes are most likely to be present in people with a strong family history of breast (and ovarian) cancers. Families with a high-risk gene can access testing, extra screening, and other risk reducing measures. This is why genetic testing and counselling are so important.
Where can I find out more?
There are lots of useful websites and organisations dedicated to raising awareness of hereditary breast cancer. Find out more by visiting:
- Coppafeel (opens in a new tab)
- Macmillan (opens in a new tab)
- Not Just BRCA (opens in a new tab)
- Breast Cancer Now (opens in a new tab)
- Clnical Genetics services at Cambridge University Hospitals, Nottingham University Hospitals (opens in a new tab) and University Hospitals of Leicester (opens in a new tab).