BRCA1 screening in patients with a family history of breast or ovarian cancer

Genet Test. 1999;3(2):223-6. doi: 10.1089/gte.1999.3.223.


Several studies have shown that the frequency of BRCA1 mutations in high-risk families differs widely between populations. In a recently published study from the Stockholm region, we found BRCA1 mutations in about 35% of the breast/ovarian families, but only in 1% of the families with site-specific breast cancer. To determine the frequency of BRCA1 mutations in families with a less increased risk for breast or ovarian cancer, a second study was performed. A total of 94 families with two and six families with only one affected member were included. Six mutations were found, all localized in exon 11, and five of them were previously known Swedish founder mutations. The mutation frequency was 6%, similar to the finding in families fulfilling the criteria for hereditary breast cancer (7%) that was disclosed in our first study. All families with a mutation had at least one individual with ovarian cancer. Thus, our study further implies that for a woman with breast cancer, a family history of ovarian cancer is far more important than a family history of breast cancer for predicting a BRCA1 mutation. Our results can be used to increase the specificity in selection of families for genetic testing.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Base Sequence
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • DNA / genetics
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • Female
  • Founder Effect
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genes, BRCA1*
  • Genetic Testing
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Pedigree
  • Risk Factors
  • Sweden


  • DNA