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Breast cancer patients with BRCA mutations 4 times more likely to get cancer in opposite breast
Date:4/5/2010

SEATTLE Women with breast cancer before age 55 who carry an inherited mutation in the breast cancer susceptibility genes BRCA1 or BRCA2 are four times more likely to develop cancer in the breast opposite, or contralateral, to their initial tumor as compared to breast cancer patients without these genetic defects. These findings, by Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center breast cancer epidemiologist Kathleen Malone, Ph.D., and colleagues, were published online April 5 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Compared to non-carriers, breast cancer patients with a BRCA1 mutation had a 4.5-fold increased risk and those with a BRCA2 mutation had a 3.4-fold increased risk of a subsequent contralateral breast cancer, the researchers found. Carriers of either mutation who were diagnosed with breast cancer before age 55 faced an 18 percent cumulative probability of developing cancer in the opposite breast within 10 years as compared to a 5 percent cumulative probability among women who were mutation-free.

In addition, the study revealed that among those who harbored a BRCA1 mutation, the younger they were at the time of initial diagnosis the higher was their risk of developing contralateral breast cancer. For example, mutation carriers diagnosed initially in their early to mid 30s had a 31 percent cumulative probability of developing contralateral breast cancer within 10 years as compared to a 7 percent probability among non-carriers.

"For young women with breast cancer, our results reinforce the message that early-onset disease is much more likely to be associated with a BRCA mutation," said Malone, first author of the paper and a member of the Public Health Sciences Division at the Hutchinson Center.

While only about 5 percent of breast cancer patients across all age groups carry a BRCA mutation, the younger a woman is at the time of her first breast cancer diagnosis, the more likely she is to have such a mutation. "In the youngest patients in
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Contact: Kristen Woodward
kwoodwar@fhcrc.org
206-667-5095
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Source:Eurekalert

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