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Genetic causes of breast cancer and treatments

Acosta, Elia V. author ;Martin-Troy, Kathy. thesis advisor


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  • Title:
    Genetic causes of breast cancer and treatments
  • Author/Creator: Acosta, Elia V. author
  • Martin-Troy, Kathy. thesis advisor; Central Connecticut State University. Department of Biological Sciences.
  • Creation Date: 1997
  • Language: English
  • Physical Description: 20 leaves : illustrations ; 29 cm.; paper 29 cm. ink typescript.
  • Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references (leaves 19-20).
  • Subjects: Breast -- Cancer -- Genetic aspects
  • Description: Breast cancer is a common disease that affects women of age 35 years or older. Studies show that it can also affect men. This illness exists in both sporadic and inherited forms. Throughout the United States alone, there are 182,000 new cases each year. Five percent of these new cases are hereditary. The annual mortality rate of breast cancer is approximated at 46,000 women per year. Breast cancer has been connected to genetic, hormonal and possibly dietary factors. The inherited form of breast cancer is being studied more extensively than the other factors attributed to the disease. The grouping of some families reveals a genetic predisposition involving tumor suppressor genes. Two of these tumor suppressor genes are known as BRCA 1 and BRCA2. BRCA 1 is said to cause breast and ovarian cancer and BRCA2 is shown to be a cause in cases of breast cancer in both men and women. There is also a study being conducted on the possibility of third tumor suppressor gene presently called BRCA3 due to a small percentage of breast cancer cases not caused by either BRCA 1 or BRCA2. Another gene said to be involved in breast cancer is the ataxia telangiectasia (ATM) gene. In 1995, scientists reported that they had isolated the ATM gene which predisposes people to certain cancers including breast cancer. People who carry one altered copy of the gene have about a fourfold increase in cancer compared with the general population, and women with a mutated gene have up to fivefold increases risk of breast cancer. Isolation of the ATM gene is important finding because it is common in the general population. As many as 1 of every 100 people may carry one copy of the mutated gene, increasing their cancer susceptibility. The gene may be responsible for 8% to 18% of all cases of breast cancer. There are some genetic markers that might be useful in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer currently being studied. Of these is the p53 tumor suppressor gene which has been also related to some cases of breast cancer. p53 is located on chromosome 17, band 13, and approximately 20 kilobases in length. Properties of the p53 gene include two DNA-binding domains, 2 SV40 large tumor antigen (T-ag) binding sites, a nuclear localization signal, an oligomerization domain, and several phosphorylation sites. Increased risk of breast cancer may be due to hormone levels in the mother during pregnancy, menopausal hormone replacement therapy, or--most likely--increased number of menstrual cycles caused by beginning menstruation at an early age, late menopause, and having few full-term pregnancies. Ways to mimic more favorable hormonal environments are being investigated in the lab and in the clinic. In an effort to find a way to protect against breast cancer, the diet and nutrition of patients is also being studied. Scientists are researching ways in which olive oil, fish oil, and anti-oxidant vitamins might protect a woman against this disease. The mother's diet may influence the developing female fetus's subsequent risk of breast cancer. A young woman's diet during adolescence, the time of most rapid cell growth, also may influence her chances of developing breast cancer when she is older. Animal models to test these theories are being developed. Research is also continuing on obesity. Being seriously overweight may increase a woman's risk of developing breast cancer. Traditional treatment of breast cancer include chemotherapy, radiation therapy and hormonal therapy to halt the spread of cancer, coupled with the removal of affected tissue areas. The traditional removal methods are radical mastectomy or modified radical mastectomy, which involves the removal of the entire affected breast, lymph nodes under the arm and sometimes the lining over the chest muscles. Newly developed techniques include the lumpectomy, in which only the tumor is removed, and the partial mastectomy where only the affected area of the breast is removed. Although research is being conducted to study any and every cause of breast cancer, the most extensive research is in the area of genetics. Knowledge of what genes may cause breast cancer is very important in the development of improved methods of treatment and, possibly, cures. To be able to test for and determine what genes have caused the disease is important because developing a method of turning that gene off (or on) and halting tumor growth or developing treatments that may drastically slow down tumor growth would be a significant step. This could be vital for both sporadic and hereditary forms of this disease. Although the testing for these genes is, at present, only conducted in the laboratory it may be available to the public soon.
  • Notes: Includes bibliographical references (leaves 19-20).
  • Degree Granted: M.S. Central Connecticut State University 1997
  • OCLC Number: 37988245