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

ence and risk of contralateral breast cancer among women in the general population who carry mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2.

Previous research on these genes in relation to the risk of contralateral breast cancer has focused largely on rare, high-risk families and has been constrained by small numbers of cases.

"While contralateral breast cancer risks in our study are quite substantial, it is worth noting that they are also 10 percent to 15 percent lower overall than in past studies in high-risk settings," Malone said. One reason for this, she said, is because this study is among the few to assess risk among substantial numbers of women without a positive family history of breast cancer.

"Getting these risk estimates right is important because of their role in clinical decision-making," Malone said. "Our study is the first to include the full spectrum of family history profiles, from minimal to extreme risk, and thus is likely to more accurately reflect the true risk of contralateral breast cancer among BRCA carriers in the general population," she said.

More than 180,000 U.S. women are diagnosed with breast cancer annually. "With growing numbers of breast cancer survivors nationwide, the magnitude of the burden associated with the potential risk of second primary contralateral breast cancer is quite large," Malone said.

BRCA1 and BRCA2 belong to a class of genes known as tumor suppressors. These genes help ensure genetic integrity of the cell and help prevent uncontrolled cell growth that can lead to cancer. Mutation of these genes has been linked to the development of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.

A woman's lifetime risk of developing breast and/or ovarian cancer is greatly increased if she inherits a mutation in either of these genes. Such a woman has an increased risk of developing breast and/or ovarian cancer at an early age (before menopause) and often has a number of close family members who have been diagnosed with these
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Contact: Kristen Woodward
kwoodwar@fhcrc.org
206-667-5095
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Source:Eurekalert

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