According to NABCO cancer is a group of more than 100 different diseases and occurs when cells become abnormal and are without control or order. The cells then continue to divide if when new ones are not needed. During the change from a normal cell to a cancerous cell, however, the cells requires many different gene alterations.
Eventually these altered genes form a tumor which may be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). A benign tumor can damage local tissue but fortunately will not spread to other parts of the body. Malignant tumors on the other hand spread to other areas of the body damaging and destroying healthy tissue.
A gene that is commonly found in breast cancer patients which have a high incidence of familial causes is the BRCA gene. Unfortunately inherited breast cancer only accounts for 10 % of the approximately 200,000 cases which are diagnosed each year. Molecular biologist, Masaaki Hamaguchi, of Cold Springs Harbor Laboratory has developed a theory that may give insight to the other 90% of breast cancer cases. While comparing healthy and cancerous cells of 200 women diagnosed with the disease his team noticed that a gene called DBC2 had been completely deleted in the cancerous cells of seven women. The team then looked at 56 more cancerous and 19 more healthy tissue samples for messenger RNA (mRNA). The mRNA showed up in all of the healthy cells while the mRNA was missing in 58% of the breast cancer tissue. This recent discovery may aid in the detection of the underlying causes of breast cancer.
As stated earlier the gene which causes inherited breast cancer is better understood. BRCA is a tumor suppressor gene. This gene is normally programmed to slow down cell division or cause cells to die at the right time. In the case of breast cancer DNA mutations cause the BRCA gene to “turn off” allowing cancer cells to multiply.
There are believed to be many risk factors of this disease, unfortunately, the reasons for the many of...