Landmark study offers new information about breast cancer genes

October 23, 2003

Bronxville, NY, October 22, 2003 - A landmark study of Ashkenazi Jewish women with inherited mutations in the genes BRCA1 and BRCA2, called The New York Breast Cancer Study, will be published by Science Magazine on October 24, and reveals some surprising findings that will contribute significantly to the scientific knowledge in the field of breast cancer management. The study was the first to incorporate pre- and post-test genetic counseling, offered through the Sarah Lawrence College graduate program in Human Genetics, for enrolled subjects.

The study, which was based on one of the largest population samples ever collected in this area of research, provides the truest estimation to date of the lifetime risks of developing breast and ovarian cancer caused by mutations in the genes BRCA1 and BRCA2. Important scientific findings include:Conducted by Dr. Mary-Claire King of the Departments of Medicine and Genome Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle and Joan H. Marks, MS and Jessica B. Mandell, MS, CGC, of the Graduate Program in Human Genetics at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY, the study engaged over 1000 women of Ashkenazi Jewish background in the New York Metropolitan area.

More than 100 students in the Sarah Lawrence program served as research associates. Twelve hospitals and medical centers in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut enrolled participants in the study over a 5-year period.

Principal investigator Mary-Claire King, American Cancer Society Professor of Genome Sciences and Medicine at the University of Washington, commented: "This study is unique because it integrates molecular genetics, epidemiology and genetic counseling to identify genetic and environmental factors whose understanding can lead to the control of breast or ovarian cancer. Data about inherited cancer in Jewish families not only benefits those with mutation in the BRCA genes but can also be applied to the general population of American women who, although not at such extremely high risk, confront breast and ovarian cancer as devastating realities in their lives."

The role of genetic counseling in the study provided the 1,008 participants and their families with:"The results of the study provide genetic counselors with validated information about the actual cancer risks related to BRCA gene mutations so that they can offer patients the most comprehensive information on genetic testing and preventive medical options," said Joan H. Marks, one of the study's principal investigators and co-author of the Science magazine article. "The environmental findings also enable younger women without breast cancer today to consider changing behavior to help modify their risks of developing breast cancer," she said.

The field of genetic counseling, which now extends around the world, was born at Sarah Lawrence College in 1969 with the establishment of the first graduate program to train professionals in both the science of genetics and the psychology of working with patients and families at risk for inherited disease. Today, there are approximately 28 institutions providing graduate training in genetic counseling and over 1,000 professionals in the field, about half of who are graduates of the Sarah Lawrence program.

Jessica B. Mandell, genetic counselor and research coordinator, provided genetic counseling for the study participants along with over 30 genetic counselors from collaborating medical centers and 100 students in the Sarah Lawrence graduate program. "With the growth of knowledge about human genetics and expanded opportunities for genetic testing," said Ms. Mandell, "the need and demand for trained genetic counselors has grown exponentially. Genetic counselors possess a unique ability to assist in disease diagnosis, prevention and management, and provide psychosocial and ethical guidance to help patients make informed, autonomous health care and reproductive decisions."
-end-
The Sarah Lawrence program, which utilizes 50 hospitals in and around New York City for field placements, is a two-year program leading to a Master of Science degree. Students complete a clinical caseload required by the American Board of Genetic Counseling (ABGC) and upon graduation are eligible for board certification. The demand for genetic counselors is greater than the supply, and employment is practically assured for the men and women who successfully complete the program.

For more information on genetic counseling and the Sarah Lawrence graduate program, please see www.slc.edu/human_genetics/ and www.nsgc.org.

Sarah Lawrence College

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.