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Good Question: What is the BRCA One gene?

There is some startling new information about the occurrence of breast and ovarian cancer in women who carry a mutated gene.

Good Question: What is the BRCA One gene?

For 42 years twins Kelly and Laura have shared just about everything.

Two years ago when Kelly got breast cancer they found something else they shared, the breast and ovarian cancer gene called BRCA One.

"Its not the news you want to hear, especially when you have two sisters, a mother, a daughter and a niece," said Kelly McSpirit Hanlon.

Their younger sister doesn't have the gene.

Kelly had a double mastectomy and her ovaries removed, so did Laura.

"I wasn't going to sit around and wait for cancer to get me. I said you know what I'm getting you first," said Laura McSpirit Grier.

Now a new study of women with the BRCA gene shows each subsequent generation of carriers seems to be getting cancer earlier than the last.

"The age moved down by about 7.9 years from one generation to the next and that is a significant age gap," said Dr. Freya Schnabel with New York University Langone Medical Center.

Women with this gene are much more likely to get breast cancer in the first place.

They have a 60% risk of developing it compared to 12% of all women.

The twins inherited their gene from their father's side of the family.

"It makes sense because my aunt on my father's side, she got breast cancer in her 50s. I was in my 40s, my cousin her daughter was in her 30's," said Kelly McSpirit Hanlon.

"Women who know they have a BRCA One or Two mutation, they should begin to be screened approximately ten years younger than the age of diagnosis of the closest relative," said Dr. Schnabel.

Kelly and Laura both have daughters, but will wait till they are old enough and let them make the decision about being tested.

Its estimated 5-10 % of all women who are diagnosed with breast cancer carry the BRCA gene mutation.

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