The two genes that have historically been linked with an increased risk of breast cancer are the BRCA1 and BRCA 2 genes. Now, researchers at the University of Cambridge have found a third gene called PALB2 that raises the risk of breast cancer almost as much as BRCA1 and BRCA2.
Many genetic tests already check for the PALB2 gene, but it was unclear to what extent this gene increased the risk of breast cancer. By age 70, women with BRCA1 mutations have a 50-70% chance of developing breast cancer and those with BRCA2 have a 40-60% chance. If there is a mutation in the PALB2 gene, women have a 35% chance of developing breast cancer by age 70.
Research also found that women with the PALB2 gene have a slightly higher risk of developing triple-negative breast cancer, which is resistant to hormone treatment, more aggressive, and more likely to recur than other types of breast cancer. Official guidelines do not recommend that women have genetic testing unless they have a family history, but the principal investigator on this new research, Dr. Marc Tischkowitz, said that, “such women should consider testing for PALB2 mutations if they are negative for BRCA1 and BRCA2.”
Read the complete New York Times article on this research: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/07/health/gene-indicator-breast-cancer-risk.html?_r=0