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Understanding Genetics May Help Breast Cancer Treatments

By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - We know that many forms of breast cancer are linked to genetic factors.

The BRCA gene is the classic example and recognizing the presence of the gene is a test that can help with early life saving diagnosis. But as we learn more about genetic testing we are learning that there is more to test for.

There are many potential genetic links to diseases like breast cancer.

For instance a new report in the journal Nature finds that there may be a reason why certain forms of breast cancer respond to different treatments. In the first study of what are called primary triple-negative breast cancers, which represent approximately 16% of all breast cancers, it was found there is definitely widespread genetic differences within this breast cancer subtype that may underlie the varied responses to therapies.

This is important to understand because it can help lead to more effective treatments.

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