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Risk and Penetrance of Mutations from Breast Cancer Testing Panels

Fergus J Couch

8 Collaborator(s)

Funding source

National Cancer Institute (NIH)
Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in the US. Approximately 15% to 20% of cases exhibit a family history of the disease suggesting a strong heritable component. Susceptibility to breast cancer is associated with high-penetrance germline mutations in BRCA1, BRCA2, PTEN, STK11, CDH1, and TP53. In addition, inherited inactivating mutations in several other genes have been associated with familial breast cancer. These include ATM, CHEK2, PALB2, BRIP1, BARD1, RAD51C, RAD51D, XRCC2, NBN, RAD50, and MRE11A. While inactivating mutations in ATM and CHEK2 have been associated with moderate 3 to 7-fold increased risk of breast cancer with lifetime risks of between 20% and 50%, these risk estimates are imprecise and little is known about the risk of breast and other cancers associated with inactivating mutations in the other predisposition genes. Clinical genetic testing for all of these high and moderate risk predisposition genes is now available. Many women, with personal and family history of breast, ovarian or other cancers, are pursuing testing for mutations with these panels, which has seen an upsurge in demand in response to 'Angelina's story'. Initial data suggest that ~10% of panel tests identify truncating mutations and 20% yield variants of uncertain significance (VUS) in the form of missense and intronic changes of undefined clinical relevance in the known predisposition genes. Although potentially useful for establishing the etiology of breast cancer in a patient's family, there remain significant limitatins in the clinical interpretation of the results from the panel testing. In particular, the age-relate risk of breast and other cancers associated with mutations in the genes are largely undefined. Furthermore, clear medical management recommendations for mutation carriers have not been developed. Thus, the results of these tests can lead to confusion and uninformed medical decisions that can result in significant harm. We propose to use high-throughput mutation screening of known breast cancer predisposition genes in breast cancer case-control studies and high-risk breast cancer families to establish the risks of breast and other cancers associated with deleterious mutations in these genes as follows: Aim 1) Establish the risk of breast cancer in the general population associated with mutations in known predisposition genes using large cohort-based case-control studies; Aim 2) Define the penetrance of cancers associated with inactivating mutations in panel-based predisposition genes through breast cancer family studies; Aim 3) Determine the clinical relevance of VUS in the known predisposition genes. At the conclusion of the study, we expect to establish risk estimates associated with deleterious mutations in the genes for the general population and breast cancer families, leading to much improved risk assessment for mutation carriers. In addition, we expect to establish the clinical relevance of many VUS in the known predisposition genes. The results of this study will also provide the necessary data to establish standard of care medical management recommendations for carriers of deleterious mutations in moderate penetrance genes, a critical unmet need.

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