Genetics of breast and ovarian cancer

Published on October 29, 2015   56 min

Other Talks in the Series: Cancer Genetics

Other Talks in the Series: Molecular Genetics of Human Disease

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Hello, I'm Doctor Jeffrey Weitzel. I'm a Medical Oncologist and a Clinical Geneticist at the City of Hope Cancer Center in Duarte, California. I'm going to speak today about the Genetics of Breast and Ovarian Cancer. I have a long relationship with the topic because I was first involved in gynecologic oncology at Tufts University in Boston and later in clinical genetics and subsequently in the translational science of bringing genetics to oncology. So first, when I talk about genetics of breast and ovarian cancer, we need to keep in mind the concept of all the different risks that are related to breast cancer.
There are many factors associated with breast cancer, some are well established. This puzzle helps us to understand all the different factors that might be involved. Many are classic epidemiologic risk factors. But of course, I'm interested in genetics, and so we'll talk more about genetics and its influence in cancer. This goes back some time in that there's a lot of very important perspectives of cancer and genetics that are often overlooked, but are emphasized in the context of cancerous counseling.
1993, just really at the height of the hunt for the breast cancer gene. I'll talk about in the timeline in a moment. BRCA1 gene was first localized several years earlier, so this really talks about the human factor, which is the concept of here's a mother who suffered breast cancer, here's a daughter who understands she's at risk and has chosen to have a mastectomy, and yet there is still transgenerational concern about this individual's daughter. So I think is a very evocative perspective and it really colors our entirety of how we look at cancer and genetics. For many of the patients we take care of, from their perspective, it's not a matter of if, but when they will get cancer. Yet genetics can help us to determine when that's really the case.