Rhode Island Hospital
Providence, RI 02903
. . . . . .
The Miriam Hospital
164 Summit Avenue
Providence, RI 02906
The exact cause of breast cancer, and cancer in general, is unknown. We do know that cancer is characterized by abnormal cell growth. Breast cancer occurs when cells grow abnormally in the breast, most often in the milk glands and ducts. As these cells divide rapidly, they collect to form a tumor.
Research indicates that breast cancer may be caused by a combination of risk factors and genetic makeup. It's estimated that five to ten percent of breast cancer cases are linked to hereditary gene mutation. There are several inherited, defective genes that can increase your risk of breast cancer. The two most common are breast cancer gene 1 (BRCA1) and breast cancer gene 2 (BRCA2). These genes also increase the risk of ovarian cancer.
If your family has a strong history of breast cancer, or other cancers, blood tests can help identify hereditary defective BRCA or other genes. Talk with you doctor about consulting with a genetic counselor, who can review your family's health history and discuss genetic testing in detail.