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Researchers have identified multiple genes that can increase the risk for breast cancer when these genes have a mistake (also called a mutation) in them. The most common of these breast cancer genes are BRCA1 and BRCA2, made famous by the actress Angelina Jolie, who wrote about her journey in testing BRCA1 positive. Having a mutation in one of the BRCA genescan significantly increase the risks for several cancers, with the highest being breast cancer, leading some women to consider removing their breasts preventively.
While there are clearly some high-risk genes for which preventative mastectomy is an option, there are also several low and moderate risk genes for which there are currently no recommendation for mastectomy.
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