According to recent research, between 10 and 15 per cent of breast cancer cases are due to the inheritance of a gene that makes someone vulnerable to this disease.
"In Mexico, this disease is classified as a public health problem due to its incidence, the highest in all types of cancer, and because of its mortality and impact on the families of patients," said Felipe Vacca Panagiu, a researcher at the Faculty of Higher Education (FES) Iztacala at UNAM . The cost of treatment and hospitalization is 200 thousand to 300 thousand pesos per case per year
Every year there are nearly 20,000 new cases, and from them, in a little over two thousand, a genetic variant has been discovered. The problem is growing, because in some families there are carriers of variants that predispose to inherited familial cancer. Then, it may happen that in the family of up to five or six women suffer breast cancer, ovarian or endometrial cancer; in the case of men, pancreas, skin (melanoma) or breast.
In addition, within two thousand cases in which a genetic variant has been discovered, some at the same time have two types of cancer, such as breast and ovary (synchronous tumors) or tumors in each city (bilateral disease).
In the INCan pilot study, Vaka Panagia and his colleagues analyzed the prevalence of genetic variants in patients with hereditary familial aggregation and breast cancer.
"We studied the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, and in about 10 per cent of patients we found a change. In general, when breast cancer or any other type of cancer is due to a genetic variant, the clinical course is more aggressive than when due to other factors at risk, "the researcher explained.
Following this study, researchers designed a method of analysis to study an enlarged panel of 143 genes associated with more than 80 hereditary oncogens, including breast cancer.
From blood samples taken to 327 patients from Mexico City and from Mexico, Morelos, Guerrero and Colima, they analyzed the DNA in the mass sequencing team of the National Health Laboratory of Itacala FES with the new method.
"We discovered only one pathogenic variant in 16 per cent of patients, which means that genetically means that hereditary breast cancer is quite heterogeneous," said Vacha Panianuga.
A university teammate who heads a team that describes the new genes present in this type of cancer commented that it was his interest to study the genetic determinants of susceptibility among Mexican patients. A genetic determinant is a variant or mutation in the gene, which affects its function. In this case, it determines the susceptibility to breast cancer.
According to the National Center for Gender Equality and Reproductive Health at the Ministry of Health, of the 291,000 637 Mexican women who died in 2015, 13.9 per cent died of cancer. Of these deaths, 15.4 per cent is due to breast cancer, 9.9 per cent of cervical cancer, and 5.9 per cent due to ovarian cancer.