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Gene Traits Seem to Affect Each Woman’s Personal Risk

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Researchers are trying to better understand how each person's unique genetic make-up affects her or his risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer, as well as treatment response.

A study found that breast cancers in women who have specific genetic traits (called subtypes) progress more rapidly than breast cancers in women who don't have these genetic traits. The same genetic traits also seem to influence how the breast cancer responds to chemotherapy.

When doctors better understand how each person's genetic make-up influences breast and other cancers, they hope to discover better ways to prevent and diagnose breast cancer, as well as decide on prognosis. In the future, it's very likely that a woman's genetic profile will help doctors choose a treatment plan based on her profile.

This vision is already a small reality. The MammaPrint test, which has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, analyzes 70 genetic traits of breast cancer cells to predict whether the cancer has a high or low risk of coming back. The MammaPrint test can help women and their doctors make more informed decisions about whether or not chemotherapy should be part of a treatment plan.

Stay tuned to breastcancer.org for the latest news on research on better ways to reduce risk, diagnose, and treat breast cancer.

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