HER2 Codon 655 Polymorphism and Risk of Breast Cancer in African Americans and Whites
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Background. Several recent epidemiologic studies examined the association between breast cancer risk and an inherited, single-nucleotide polymorphism in the HER2 gene, codon 655 G to A, which leads to an amino acid substitution of Ile to Val. Results of previous studies have been mixed, with most studies showing no association but some suggesting an association in younger women or women with a family history of breast cancer.
Methods. We conducted an association study of HER2 codon 655 genotype and breast cancer within the Carolina Breast Cancer study, a population-based, case-control study of in situ and invasive breast cancer in African American and white women in North Carolina. A total of 2015 cases and 1808 controls were genotyped.
Results. We observed no overall association between HER2 genotype and breast cancer. However, a modest positive association (OR = 2.3, 95% CI 1.0–5.3) was observed for Val/Val + Ile/Val versus Ile/Ile genotypes in women age 45 or younger with a family history of breast cancer. Val/Val homozygotes were more common among cases with in situ versus invasive disease (P = 0.002). Breast tumors from women with Val/Val genotype were more likely to exhibit HER2 overexpression, but the results were not statistically significant (P = 0.17).
Conclusions. The HER2 codon 655 polymorphism may be one of many low-penetrant genes that make a minor contribution to breast cancer, particularly in subgroups of women. Additional large studies, as well as data pooling, will be needed to estimate the contribution of such genes to breast cancer risk.
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