Skill Checkup: A 56-Year-Old Woman With a History of Breast Cancer and Pain in Her Ribs and Spine

Pavani Chalasani, MD, MPH


January 14, 2022

About 5%-10% of breast cancers are hereditary, and the most common cause of hereditary breast cancer is a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation (only rarely do the mutations coexist in the same person). A patient who carries a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation has a significantly increased risk of developing breast cancer. Moreover, BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations cause approximately 20%-25% of hereditary breast cancers, respectively, and 5%-10% of all breast cancers. These risk ratios increase in carriers aged 70 years or older as well.

Some women with a BRCA1/BRCA2 mutation opt to have a prophylactic double mastectomy. Because the current patient did not have a BRCA mutation, she chose not to have a double mastectomy. When a BRCA mutation is present, such extensive surgery can reduce the risk of developing breast cancer by at least 90%. Other approaches include:

Follow Medscape on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube

Editor's Recommendations


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.