Breast cancer gene may be associated with additional cancers

September 17, 2002

Two new studies suggest that people who inherit BRCA1 mutations are at an increased risk of not only breast and ovarian cancer but a number of other cancers as well. However, the absolute magnitude of the increase in risk of these other cancers is small. The findings appear in the September 18 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Mutations in the BRCA1 tumor suppressor gene have been associated with a marked increase in the risk of breast and ovarian cancer. Several studies have examined the association of BRCA1 with other cancers, particularly prostate cancer and colon cancer, but the results have been mixed.

To clarify this connection, Deborah Thompson, Ph.D., and Douglas F. Easton, Ph.D., of the University of Cambridge, and their colleagues from the Breast Cancer Linkage Consortium estimated cancer risk rates among 11,847 people from families with a history of breast and/or ovarian cancer and in which at least one family member was a BRCA1 mutation carrier.

They found small but statistically significant increases in the risk of colon, liver, pancreatic, uterine, and cervical cancers among female BRCA1 mutation carriers, compared with the general population. In male BRCA1 mutation carriers, there was a slightly elevated risk of prostate cancer. However, this increase was seen only in men younger than age 65.

In the second study, Marcia S. Brose, M.D., Ph.D., and Barbara L. Weber, M.D., of the University of Pennsylvania Cancer Center, and their colleagues used a different method to estimate BRCA1-related cancer risks among 483 mutation carriers identified through a cancer risk counseling program. Some of the participants were the same ones used in the first study.

Over their lifetimes, BRCA1 mutation carriers had an estimated 73% risk of breast cancer and 41% risk of ovarian cancer, compared with risks of 13% and 2%, respectively, in the general population. In addition, mutation carriers had a small increase in risk of colon, pancreatic, and gastric cancers. Although the risk of fallopian tube cancer increased 120-fold, the authors point out that this cancer is extremely rare in the general population.

Stephen B. Gruber, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and Gloria M. Petersen, Ph.D., of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., emphasize the importance of accuracy in estimating cancer risk among mutation carriers because these estimates influence choices regarding screening, chemoprevention, and prophylactic surgery.

"Both of these studies provide intriguing new patterns to investigate further, and it is now time for the next generation of studies to follow each lead more directly," they write in an accompanying editorial. "In the meantime, the message is that the major cancer risks conferred by BRCA1 are related to cancers of the breast, ovary, and fallopian tube, but increased risks of other cancers are likely to be small."
-end-
Contact: Douglas F. Easton, Ph.D., University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, 44-122-374-0160, Douglas@srl.cam.ac.uk

Olivia Fermano, University of Pennsylvania Cancer Center, 215-349-5653; fax: 215-349-8312, olivia.fermano@uphs.upenn.edu

Editorial: Kara Gavin, University of Michigan, 734-764-2220; fax: 734-615-2169, umhsmedia@umich.edu

Thompson D, Easton D, The Breast Cancer Linkage Consortium. Cancer incidence in BRCA1 mutation carriers. J Natl Cancer Inst 2002;94:1358-65.

Brose M, Rebbeck T, Calzone K, Stopfer J, Nathanson K, Weber B. Cancer risk estimates for BRCA1 mutation carriers identified in a risk evaluation program. J Natl Cancer Inst 2002;94:1365-72.

Editorial: Gruber S, Petersen G. Cancer risks in BRCA1 carriers: time for the next generation of studies. J Natl Cancer Inst 2002;94:1344-5.

Attribution to the Journal of the National Cancer Institute is requested in all news coverage.

Journal of the National Cancer Institute

Related Breast Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

Oncotarget: IGF2 expression in breast cancer tumors and in breast cancer cells
The Oncotarget authors propose that methylation of DVDMR represents a novel epigenetic biomarker that determines the levels of IGF2 protein expression in breast cancer.

Breast cancer: AI predicts which pre-malignant breast lesions will progress to advanced cancer
New research at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, could help better determine which patients diagnosed with the pre-malignant breast cancer commonly as stage 0 are likely to progress to invasive breast cancer and therefore might benefit from additional therapy over and above surgery alone.

Partial breast irradiation effective treatment option for low-risk breast cancer
Partial breast irradiation produces similar long-term survival rates and risk for recurrence compared with whole breast irradiation for many women with low-risk, early stage breast cancer, according to new clinical data from a national clinical trial involving researchers from The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center - Arthur G.

Breast screening linked to 60 per cent lower risk of breast cancer death in first 10 years
Women who take part in breast screening have a significantly greater benefit from treatments than those who are not screened, according to a study of more than 50,000 women.

More clues revealed in link between normal breast changes and invasive breast cancer
A research team, led by investigators from Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, details how a natural and dramatic process -- changes in mammary glands to accommodate breastfeeding -- uses a molecular process believed to contribute to survival of pre-malignant breast cells.

Breast tissue tumor suppressor PTEN: A potential Achilles heel for breast cancer cells
A highly collaborative team of researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina and Ohio State University report in Nature Communications that they have identified a novel pathway for connective tissue PTEN in breast cancer cell response to radiotherapy.

Computers equal radiologists in assessing breast density and associated breast cancer risk
Automated breast-density evaluation was just as accurate in predicting women's risk of breast cancer, found and not found by mammography, as subjective evaluation done by radiologists, in a study led by researchers at UC San Francisco and Mayo Clinic.

Blood test can effectively rule out breast cancer, regardless of breast density
A new study published in PLOS ONE demonstrates that Videssa® Breast, a multi-protein biomarker blood test for breast cancer, is unaffected by breast density and can reliably rule out breast cancer in women with both dense and non-dense breast tissue.

Study shows influence of surgeons on likelihood of removal of healthy breast after breast cancer dia
Attending surgeons can have a strong influence on whether a patient undergoes contralateral prophylactic mastectomy after a diagnosis of breast cancer, according to a study published by JAMA Surgery.

Young breast cancer patients undergoing breast conserving surgery see improved prognosis
A new analysis indicates that breast cancer prognoses have improved over time in young women treated with breast conserving surgery.

Read More: Breast Cancer News and Breast Cancer Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.