Cancer research scientists have identified another gene that, if mutation occurs, can result in an increased risk of breast cancer. The gene, called CHEK2 or CHK2, is thought to double the 13 per cent lifetime risk of breast cancer that is faced by women in the US.
The report, published online in the journal Nature Genetics, was co-authored by team leader Michael Stratton, of the Institute of Cancer Research in London. He said that although one per cent of people carry the mutated gene, this does not mean that breast cancer is inevitable for all of them. The increased risk is said to be similar to that faced by women who have a close family member with breast cancer. Stratton said that, on this basis, 'CHK2 is not something anyone should go out and get tested for' as more research is needed before the information could be used in clinical practice.
The CHK2 gene is one of a number of genes that have been linked to breast cancer. Inheriting CHK2 is also thought to increase the risk of developing breast cancer in men. Two other genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2, are already known to affect womens' chances of developing the disease. In the new study, the scientists studied breast cancer patients who had a family history of the disease, but who did not carry the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene. This group was compared to 1620 healthy women.
Just over five per cent of the women with breast cancer were found to have inherited a mutated version of the CHK2 gene, while just over one per cent of the healthy women were carrying it.
Sources and References
Gene may double breast cancer risk
Low-penetrance susceptibility to breast cancer due to CHEK2*1100delC in noncarriers of BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations