BLACK bREAST CANCER - tHE MUTATED BRCA GENE

THE MUTATED BRCA GENE

Within the breast cancer world, a great deal has been discussed about the ‘mutated’ BRCA gene. Indeed, I would recommend you watch the film ‘Decoding Annie Parker’ to give you a sense of what it’s all about.

Not so many years ago, it was believed that breast cancer just happened, and that family history was irrelevant to breast cancer presentation. This was despite seeing repeated generational occurrences. Then, as the film will show, the mutated BRCA gene was found in 1994. BR for breast and CA for cancer. BRCA gene 1 and BRCA gene 2 were identified. BRCA gene 2 is normally associated with male breast cancer.

Everyone has a BRCA gene, so the emphasis is on it having ‘mutated’.

Basically, genes repair DNA. I think they’re like the mechanics that fix cars. For some reason, genes can fall into their own disrepair and then there’s trouble. That’s when tumors can develop and get out of control. So a mutated gene is one that is broken so-to-speak.

Because the dysfunctional BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes fail to repair DNA properly, there is nothing to stop breast and other types of cancer growth from getting out of control.

Both mother and father are capable of passing genes down to their children. So, if your family history shows a presence of the mutated BRCA gene, you are more likely to have the mutation yourself.

 

IF EITHER PARENT HAS A BRCA MUTATION, THERE IS A 50 PER CENT CHANCE THAT THEIR CHILD WILL HAVE THE SAME MUTATION.

 

AFRICAN HERITAGE BREAST CANCER AND THE BRCA GENE

For several decades now, medical research has stressed a link between African heritage breast cancer and the BRCA gene. Because African heritage women have a 40 per cent higher death (mortality) rate particularly when it comes to

 

  • Young black women and
  • Aggressive breast cancers (Triple Negative Breast Cancer),

 

it’s been argued that we (as black women) are overrepresented in having the mutated BRCA gene.

 

BUT IS THIS TRUE?

Quite recently, a new study from the University of Pennsylvania (September 5, 2021), announced that the genetic relationship between race and the mutated BRCA gene was not true.

 

THERE ARE NO REAL BIOLOGICAL DIFFERENCES BETWEEN BLACK AND WHITE PEOPLE WHERE THE MUTATED BRCA GENE IS CONCERNED.

 

Apparently, too many of the previous research studies carried out were either bias or just too small for reliability. This is a very useful link to the REPORT and it’s probably time to accept the likely truth of their findings.

 

AFRICAN HERITAGE BODIES ARE NOT THE SITE OF DISEASE SO MUCH AS WE ARE AT THE EPICENTRE WHERE SOCIAL, ENVIRONMENTAL AND FINANCIAL CHALLENGES MEET TO FOSTER THE CONDITIONS OF IT.

 

SO IT’S NOT ABOUT RACE (GENETICALLY), BUT IT IS, AT LEAST IN PART, ABOUT MISOGYNOIR (A form of discrimination particular to BLACK WOMEN).

 

According to this NEW STUDY, the key problem lies in the racial disparities of healthcare services including,

  1. Doctors are less likely to recommend that black women be tested for the BRCA gene compared to white women.
  1. Black women are worried about the financial implication of having a genetic test – less aware in the US, of insurance protections where the BRCA gene is concerned.
  1. Black women may be less likely to have medical insurance.
  1. In general, black women are taken less seriously in their patient/doctor relationships.

THE MUTATED BRCA GENE

Whether black or white, if you do have the mutated BRCA gene, your risk of breast cancer can increase by 75%.

 

THE MUTATED BRCA GENE IS NOT IN YOUR FAMILY?

The problem is many black African heritage families don’t know for sure whether the BRCA gene is present or not. Knowing your family history matters but very often, you won’t know AND through no fault of your own. Also, most women diagnosed with breast cancer don’t have a family history.

The only way to know for certain whether you have the mutated BRCA gene is to have a genetic test.

 

  1. The UPSIDE of genetic testing is that you’ll know whether you have the mutated BRCA and other mutated genes.
  1. The DOWNSIDE is that you may learn things about your health that you either,
    • Didn’t want to know but can handle &/or,
    • You discover unexpected information about yourself that knock you sideways.

 

TAKE ADVICE from your doctor or genetic counsellor but be informed independently from an African heritage perspective.

 

YOU CANNOT, AND SHOULD NOT ASSUME THEY HAVE YOUR INTERESTS AT HEART WITH THE SAME INTENSITY THAT YOU SHOULD HAVE THEM FOR YOURSELF.

 

I don’t want to feed mistrust but be ultimately responsible for your health. You can only do that by getting yourself more informed – no matter where you are in the world.   

 

WHAT’S THE COST AND WHAT HAPPENS?

 

CHECK:  GETTING GENETICALLY TESTED

 

GOING PRIVATE?

Getting genetically tested independently for the BRCA gene is NOT CHEAP and can cost more or less, around;

 

(US) $1,500,

(UK) £1,500 

(EU) €1,500.

 

I dread to think what that means for Africa, the Caribbean, the Oceania and all indigenous people across the world.

Given the cost of disease and the continued spread of breast cancer particularly in the Caribbean and Africa, there must be strong arguments for the cost-effectiveness of genetic testing populations, but we’re not there yet.

 

MOVIE : DECODING ANNIE PARKER

plans ahead

WATCH THIS SPACE

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