(HealthDay News) — Young black women have a higher rate of BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations than previously believed, according to a study published online August 19 in Cancer.

The investigators looked at BRCA mutation rates among 396 black women in Florida who were diagnosed with invasive breast cancer before age 50. They found that 12.4% of these women had either BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations.

More than 40% of the women with a BRCA mutation had no close relatives with breast or ovarian cancer. This suggests that family history doesn’t always identify women who may have BRCA mutations, the researchers said.

“Our results suggest that it may be appropriate to recommend BRCA testing in all black women with invasive breast cancer diagnosed at or below age 50,” study leader and clinical geneticist Tuya Pal, MD, from the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, FL, said in a center news release.

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