Gene Variants Foretell Biology of Future Breast Cancers in Stanford Medicine Study

In a finding that vastly expands the understanding of tumor evolution, researchers discover genetic biomarkers that can predict the breast cancer subtype a patient is likely to develop.

A Stanford Medicine study of thousands of breast cancers has found that the gene sequences we inherit at conception are powerful predictors of the breast cancer type we might develop decades later and how deadly it might be. The study challenges the dogma that most cancers arise as the result of random mutations that accumulate during our lifetimes. Instead, it points to the active involvement of gene sequences we inherit from our parents — what’s known as your germline genome — in determining whether cells bearing potential cancer-causing mutations are recognized and eliminated by the immune system or skitter under the radar to become nascent cancers. 

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