Study: New Gene Mutation Increases Breast Cancer Risk


It's long been known that faulty BRCA genes greatly raise the risk for breast cancer. Now scientists say a more recently identified, less common gene can do the same. Mutations in the gene can make breast cancer up to nine times more likely to develop, an international team of researchers reports in this week's New England Journal of Medicine.

About 5 to 10 percent of breast cancers are thought to be due to bad BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes. Beyond those, many other genes are thought to play a role but how much each one raises risk has not been known, said Dr. Jeffrey Weitzel, a genetics expert at City of Hope Cancer Center in Duarte, Calif. The new study on the gene— called PALB2 — shows "this one is serious," and probably is the most dangerous in terms of breast cancer after the BRCA genes, said Weitzel, one of leaders of the study.


-The Associated Press