Breast Cancer Surveillance

Any woman who has herself had a history of  Breast cancer and all other women in her family, who are her blood relatives need to be under surveillance to keep a watch for the occurrence of the disease. This includes clinical examination, breast self-examination, and mammograms from age 35 years onwards.

Genes are magic codes which are present in all our cells. They determine our personal characteristics. It is through these genes that our traits get transmitted from one generation to the next. We are not absolutely alike our previous generation as we inherit genes from both our parents and sometimes there may be some changes in the genetic code in the previous generation. This change is called a genetic mutation. This mutation is transferred from the parents to the offspring during conception. Some of these inherited gene mutations may increase the risk of breast cancer in the person who has inherited the gene. BRCA1 (Breast Cancer Gene 1) and BRCA2 (Breast Cancer Gene 2) are genes which are linked to the risk of Breast Cancer. These genes are present in everyone but if there are any mutations in these genes which are inherited by the next generation, it increases the risk of Breast Cancer in that generation. The person with BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation is termed a BRCA1/2 carrier.

Genetic testing for the BRCA1/2 genes may be recommended in the following cases:

  • A known case of BRCA1/2 mutation in the family
  • Personal history of Breast Cancer at age 45 or younger
  • Three relatives with Breast Cancer
  • Two relatives with Breast cancer and atleast one diagnosed at age 50 years or younger
  • Ovarian and Breast Cancer in the same family
  • Woman with Triple Negative Breast Cancer diagnosed at age 60 years or younger
  • Breast Cancer in a male relative

Screening for BRCA1/2 carriers

The three modalities used for screening are the following:

  • Clinical Breast Examination
  • Yearly mammograms
  • Breast MRI as deemed appropriate by the clinician