030: BRCA | The BReast CAncer genes (Part 1)

Breast Cancer (Ductal Carcinoma) depiction from the National Cancer Institute for This Medical Life Episode 30

In 1866, a French physician by the name of Pierre Paul Broca recognised a terrifying disease running through the women of his wife’s family: breast cancer. He wrote that they could be well and have perfect health before this ‘germ’ of an illness would go off like an ‘explosion’ and could kill within 1 to 2 years. Broca studied his family for the next 30 years where he noted that 15 close relatives including his wife’s mother, his wife, and his daughter were all affected.

It would not be until the late 20th century that our knowledge and scientific techniques would lead us to understand this phenomenon. Professor Mary-Claire King in the late 1980s helped to identify the genetics of the BReast CAncer gene and continued research identified another. Today we know these as the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.

Unfortunately, women who have these BRCA gene mutations have an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer (plus some others). The nature of this disease spans multiple specialities and, as such, we have some special guests for this episode to help us understand this disease, the treatment, and the management of this illness.

Our special guests for Part 1:

Professor Graeme Suthers – National Director of Genetics for Sonic Pathology Australia

Doctor Melissa Bochner – Breast and Endocrine Surgeon and member of BreastSurgANZ and current chair of the Breast Cancer Quality Audit

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