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For women who inherit genetic mutations associated with breast cancer (BRCA1 and BRCA2 being the most common), the risk of developing the disease can be as high as 70%. It’s not currently known how many breast cancers in NZ are hereditary and they could even be under-diagnosed.
Together with the Health Research Council, we’re funding a $200,000 project by Professor Michael Eccles and his team at the University of Otago, which will hopefully lead to earlier diagnosis and treatment of women who have hereditary breast cancer. They’ll use the Breast Cancer Foundation National Register to identify patients who have tested positive for BRCA mutations in order to examine their breast cancer characteristics. They’ll then do genetic profiling of 300 other patients (with or without inherited gene abnormalities). This will give us a better understanding of hereditary breast cancer and help to improve screening for at-risk women.