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2008 National DNA Day Online Chatroom Transcript

This is just one question from an archive of the National DNA Day Moderated Chat held in April 2008. The NHGRI Director and many genomics experts from across NHGRI took questions from students, teachers and the general public on topics ranging from basic genomic research, to the genetic basis of disease, to ethical questions about genetic privacy.

Should I be concerned if my grandmother had breast cancer and died from it? Should I be worried about myself?
     Barbara Biesecker, M.S.: Researching ways to make genetic counseling as effective as possible. Breast cancer is a common condition meaning that it is caused by genes and environment. It results from multiple causes. It is more likely to be inherited in families where multiple members are affected. If your grandmother developed breast cancer later in her life (not an uncommon occurrence), it does not increase your risk substantially. Your chances would be higher if you had multiple affected family members and/or if they got cancer early (before 50 years of age). If you are at all concerned, contact a genetic counselor about your risks. You can find one on the NSGC website:
Waterville High School in WA (12th grade student)

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