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Additional genes identified that could increase breast cancer risk

How to determine if you are good candidate for genetic counseling

SAN ANTONIO – Doctors say one in eight women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. Doctors said they've now identified between 50 and 100 genes in some way associated with the disease.

Lilia Rios was diagnosed after she found a lump on the right side of her chest.

"First I had two lumpectomies, followed with chemo and radiation last year. This year is when the genetic test came back positive," Rios said.

Research has shown that genetics can play a large role in whether a person is predisposed to the disease. Some gene mutations like BRCA1 and BRCA2 can increase a woman's risk of breast cancer by 80 percent. 

KSAT Community in partnership with University Health System is offering free mammograms over the next several weeks. Medical professionals explain it's not only important to get preventive screenings, it’s also important to know your risk.

"In the past few years, we identified other genes -- PALB2, ATM -- and those genes seem to increase the risk of breast cancer maybe not as much as BRCA1 and BRCA2 do, but significantly enough that we need to know so that we can help women prevent breast cancer," said Dr. Virginia Kaklamani, University Hospital professor of medicine and leader of the Breast Program.

Genetic counseling revealed Rios carries the PALB2 gene, which significantly increases her cancer risk.

"I find that (if a patient) carries one of these mutations, I can prevent her cancer. This is huge. I don't have to detect it early and try to cure it, if it doesn’t happen in the first place," Kaklamani said.

Rios, not wanting to risk going through chemo in the future, underwent a preventive double mastectomy and had breast reconstruction done at the same time. Most important, she's cancer-free.

"Our scars are the signs of the battle that we went through and we're here," said Rios. "I'm very happy. I'm still a woman, I'm still a woman. I don't feel any different."

Kaklamani said it's important to discuss your family medical history with your physician to determine if you are a good candidate for genetic counseling.

To find out more about the Mobile Mammography Bus offering free exams, click here.