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Genetic Predisposition Testing for Breast Cancer

Breast cancer occurs when cells in the breast start reproducing abnormally to form a malignant tumour. Breast cancer most often begins in the cells of the lobules, which are the glands that produce milk, or the ducts, the passages through which milk passes from the lobules to the nipple.

About Breast Cancer

Less commonly, breast cancer can begin in the stromal tissues, which include the fatty and fibrous connective tissues of the breast.

If untreated, the cancer cells can invade nearby healthy breast tissue and make their way into the lymph nodes found in our underarms. If cancer cells get into the lymph nodes, they then have a pathway into other parts of the body.

Signs and symptoms of Breast Cancer may include:

  • A lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm area
  • Unusual discharge from the nipple that may contain blood
  • A change in the size or shape of the breast
  • Changes to the skin over the breast, such as dimpling
  • Inverted nipple
  • Peeling or flaking of the nipple skin
  • The skin of the breast, areola, or nipple may be scaly, red, or swollen. It may have ridges or pitting so that it looks like the skin of an orange.

Causes of Breast Cancer

The exact cause of breast cancer is not known however it is now believed that breast cancer is caused by a complex combination of your genetic makeup and your environment. A family history of breast cancer will increase your risk for developing this disease.

A number of inherited defective genes that can increase the likelihood of breast cancer have been identified. The most common are breast cancer gene 1 (BRCA1) and breast cancer gene 2 (BRCA2), both of which increase the risk of both breast and ovarian cancer.

In addition, the risk of developing breast cancer increases with increasing age, being female, a personal history of breast cancer, and being obese.