Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

The more I look on the Internet for information on hereditary breast cancer and the BRCA genes, the more disinformation I find. I think some of the inane comments I have seen are due to a general lack of knowledge of genetics and the risks of BRCA mutations. I was pretty clueless myself just a […]

Found an article from last year’s U.S. News and World Report called BRCA Mutations Don’t Raise Breast Cancer Risk Equally. This was the topic of my post on Risk Diversity. Happy to see there is some mainstream news on it, but as the researcher quoted in the article notes: “To some extent, people have traditionally […]

The researcher who led the discovery of BRCA2, Mike Stratton, has announced the first full genetic analysis of lung cancer and melanoma. The graphic above is visual summary of this work. It shows all of the mutations in the genome of small-call lung cancer (above) and malignant melanoma (below). The researchers who worked on this […]

Risk Diversity


I have referred to different risks for the different positions of BRCA2 mutations, but I haven’t explained where I got this idea. It’s comes from a 2004 study done by Polish, Canadian, and American researchers. The study looked at cancer cases in 440 families with BRCA2 mutations. It finds further evidence of the Ovarian Cancer […]

Nearly every discussion on how to manage the risk for BRCA mutation carriers goes back to the preventive surgeries: mastectomy and oophorectomy. But while these surgeries are very effective for reducing risk, they are not without their own risks. Mastectomy can affect sexuality and body image. To me, these risks seem manageable. I feel they […]

Silver bullets


When first faced with my family history of breast cancer, I started coming up with all sorts of rationales of why breast cancer wouldn’t affect me. I tried to figure out what my mother, aunt, and grandmother all had in common that I don’t have. I figured out they all drank alcohol regularly. Of course, […]

So I forgot to mention on my previous article that the study assumes the low ends of the BRCA1/BRCA2 risk range in its simulations. Is this fair? [Edit: Actually the study does simulations assuming risks from 40-85%.] Most of us facing the risk seem to just remember the high end. Ever since seeing the Myraid […]

A brand-spanking new research study to chew on while making decisions: Survival Analysis of Cancer Risk Reduction Strategies for BRCA1/2 Mutation Carriers. Kurian AW, Sigal BM, Plevritis SK. PURPOSE: Women with BRCA1/2 mutations inherit high risks of breast and ovarian cancer; options to reduce cancer mortality include prophylactic surgery or breast screening, but their efficacy […]



I read some message board posts recently saying that a woman should not get tested for a BRCA mutation if she is not considering preventive surgeries. Supposedly, this logic came from genetic counsellors. Although I understand that we have to consider the impact that anxiety can have on people’s quality of life, I still don’t […]

In my last post, I forgot to mention a very obvious example of “reincarnation” in science: genes. Everyone of us could be said to be reincarnating a part of our biological mother and father. But I think I should add to this discussion that I am being quite liberal in my interpretation of Buddhism. I […]