By Lynne Adkins
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Angelina Jolie put a public face to the fact that a gene mutation can cause breast cancer, but gene mutations can cause other cancers, too.
Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer associated with asbestos exposure. Dr. Joseph Testa, The Weg Chair of Human Genetics at Fox Chase Cancer, says it’s also been linked to a mutation known as the Bap1 Cancer Syndrome.
“We found six or seven mesothelioma’s in the same family even though neither family had high levels of exposure to asbestos, no one in those two families worked occupationally with asbestos, so it was a little bit of a surprise to see such a high incidence of mesothelioma in that family.”
He says the syndrome is also linked to tumors of the eye, kidney and skin cancers. Knowing the syndrome is in a family can help doctors find tumors at an earlier, more treatable stage.