Familial risk and genetic susceptibility for breast cancer
- Cite this article as:
- Eby, N., Chang-Claude, J. & Timothy Bishop, D. Cancer Causes Control (1994) 5: 458. doi:10.1007/BF01694760
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Clinical observations suggest that breast cancer is occasionallyinherited as an autosomal dominant disease in families. Epidemiologic studies consistently have shown that a history of breast cancer in a first-degree relative increases a woman's risk of breast cancer when compared with the general population. The risk is similar if a mother or sister is affected and is increased further if both are affected. The difficulty with such an observation is that in itself it does not clarify the nature of the true underlying risk factors which could be genetic or due to the aggregation of environmental risk factors in families. Complex segregation analysis of breast cancer aggregation in families suggests that breast cancer susceptibility is due to an autosomal dominant inheritance of one or more rare genes in a few families in which carriers have a high probability of developing the disease perhaps as great as 100 percent. Close linkage of a breast-cancer-susceptibility gene (BRCA1), between markers of the chromosomal region 17q12-q21 on the long arm of chromosome 17, with breast cancer recently has been reported. Families linked to BRCA1 were more likely to have early onset of breast cancer or have breast and ovarian cancer in the family. It is likely that other genes play a role in the unlinked breastcancer families. Both the epidemiologic and genetic data suggest that breast cancer is a heterogeneous disease.