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JOURNAL ARTICLE

Breast and ovarian cancer in relatives of cancer patients, with and without BRCA mutations

Jennifer S Lee, Esther M John, Valerie McGuire, Anna Felberg, Kimberly L Ostrow, Richard A DiCioccio, Frederick P Li, Alexander Miron, Dee W West, Alice S Whittemore
Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention 2006, 15 (2): 359-63
16492929

BACKGROUND: First-degree relatives of patients with breast or ovarian cancer have increased risks for these cancers. Little is known about how their risks vary with the patient's cancer site, carrier status for predisposing genetic mutations, or age at cancer diagnosis.

METHODS: We evaluated breast and ovarian cancer incidence in 2,935 female first-degree relatives of non-Hispanic White female patients with incident invasive cancers of the breast (n = 669) or ovary (n = 339) who were recruited from a population-based cancer registry in northern California. Breast cancer patients were tested for BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations. Ovarian cancer patients were tested for BRCA1 mutations. We estimated standardized incidence ratios (SIR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) for breast and ovarian cancer among the relatives according to the patient's mutation status, cancer site, and age at cancer diagnosis.

RESULTS: In families of patients who were negative or untested for BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations, risks were elevated only for the patient's cancer site. The breast cancer SIR was 1.5 (95% CI, 1.2-1.8) for relatives of breast cancer patients, compared with 1.1 (95% CI, 0.8-1.6) for relatives of ovarian cancer patients (P = 0.12 for difference by patient's cancer site). The ovarian cancer SIR was 0.9 (95% CI, 0.5-1.4) for relatives of breast cancer patients, compared with 1.9 (95% CI, 1.0-4.0) for relatives of ovarian cancer patients (P = 0.04 for difference by site). In families of BRCA1-positive patients, relatives' risks also correlated with the patient's cancer site. The breast cancer SIR was 10.6 (95% CI, 5.2-21.6) for relatives of breast cancer patients, compared with 3.3 (95% CI, 1.4-7.3) for relatives of ovarian cancer patients (two-sided P = 0.02 for difference by site). The ovarian cancer SIR was 7.9 (95% CI, 1.2-53.0) for relatives of breast cancer patients, compared with 11.3 (3.6-35.9) for relatives of ovarian cancer patients (two-sided P = 0.37 for difference by site). Relatives' risks were independent of patients' ages at diagnosis, with one exception: In families ascertained through a breast cancer patient without BRCA mutations, breast cancer risks were higher if the patient had been diagnosed before age 40 years.

CONCLUSION: In families of patients with and without BRCA1 mutations, breast and ovarian cancer risks correlate with the patient's cancer site. Moreover, in families of breast cancer patients without BRCA mutations, breast cancer risk depends on the patient's age at diagnosis. These patterns support the presence of genes that modify risk specific to cancer site, in both carriers and noncarriers of BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations.

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