BRCA1 and BRCA2 (breast cancer susceptibility) are genes that help prevent breast cancer from developing. They are responsible for repairing defects in our DNA and maintaining our genes, which can prevent tumors from forming. When they are functioning properly, they are considered to be tumor suppressors. When mutations occur in the BRCA genes, their function is disrupted. They cannot effectively repair DNA damage, and defects accumulate, making cells more prone to cancer.
Mutations in BRCA are often inherited and people who have them are at increased risk for breast cancer – called inherited breast cancer. But BRCA mutations can also occur sporadically (not inherited). 15-25% of inherited breast cancers are a result of BRCA mutations; however, not all people with the BRCA mutation will get breast cancer.
For more information on BRCA genes, click here