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Study shows no increased risk of breast cancer for non-carriers in families with BRCA gene mutation
Date:10/31/2011

," said study first author Allison Kurian, MD, assistant professor of medicine and health research and policy at Stanford University School of Medicine. "One strength of the current study is the control women it used as a yardstick for comparing the breast cancer incidence in non-carriers of family-specific mutations. The control women were also relatives of breast cancer patients, but of patients without mutations. This is a more appropriate yardstick than average risk in the general population, since close relatives of all breast cancer patients have somewhat higher than average risks."

Women who inherit a mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene carry a 5- to 20-fold higher risk of developing breast or ovarian cancers. First-degree relatives who have not inherited the same familial BRCA mutation have been considered to have a considerably lower risk for breast cancer.

In 2007, a study of women who tested negative for a specific familial BRCA mutation showed they had a 2- to 5-fold increased risk of developing breast cancer; which could be considered comparable to the risk of having a BRCA mutation. According to Kurian, the results raised concerns that non-carriers might require similar screening and preventive measures as their mutation-carrying relatives, such as annual breast MRI and prophylactic surgery, and cast some doubt on the meaning of a negative BRCA test.

Kurian said that the studies had looked at women who were in cancer family clinics and compared their breast cancer risk to that of women in the general population. Women from cancer family clinics were more likely to have intensive screening, and breast cancer risks tend to be higher among close relatives of breast cancer patients than those in the general population.

The investigators took a different approach in this research by studying women with breast cancer in 3,047 families in three population-based cancer registries in Northern California (1,214), Austra
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Contact: Nicole Fernandes
nicole.fernandes@asco.org
571-483-1354
American Society of Clinical Oncology
Source:Eurekalert

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