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THURSDAY, Jan. 21, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- New research into exactly which genetic mutations increase breast cancer risk in women without a family history of the disease may help guide decisions about screening and preventive surgery, doctors say.
The two large studies also examined how common these genetic flaws are in the general population, the Associated Press reported.
They were published Jan. 20 in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The research shows that the breast cancer risk conferred by some genes "is very high," Mary-Claire King, a University of Washington scientist, told the AP.
"The lives of many women could be saved if all women were offered the opportunity to learn if they carry mutations in these genes before they are diagnosed with cancer," said King, who discovered the first breast cancer predisposition gene, BRCA1.
She was not involved in the new studies.
About 276,000 new cases of breast cancer were diagnosed in the United States last year, according to the American Cancer Society. The new research suggests that at least 13,800 of them occur in women with inherited gene mutations that increase breast cancer risk, the AP reported.
Genetic testing isn't recommended for the general population, but it's becoming more common and many Americans get direct-to-consumer tests, the wire service noted.
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