The contribution of inherited factors to the clinicopathological features and behavior of breast cancer

J Mammary Gland Biol Neoplasia. 2001 Oct;6(4):453-65. doi: 10.1023/a:1014791115760.


This review is focused on genetic factors that may influence the development and/or appearance of breast cancer metastases. Over the last decade there have been significant advances in the understanding of genetic predisposition to breast cancer. The first breast cancer predisposing gene to be identified was TP53, and this was followed over the next 5 years by two more genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2, which from a population perspective are much more important than TP53. Other rarer genes have subsequently been identified, but the role of more common, less penetrant genes in breast cancer susceptibility remains unknown. Recent work has shown that breast cancers occurring in women carrying germ-line BRCA1 mutations tend to have clinicopathological features that are usually associated with a poor prognosis, such as high grade, estrogen receptor negative status and somatic TP53 mutations. On the other hand, they are usually ERBB2 negative. Whether or not such tumors are more or less likely to metastasize, and hence be associated with a poor outcome, is currently uncertain and has been the subject of much debate. Here, we outline some of the clinicopathological features of hereditary breast cancer, discuss the prognostic studies that have been performed, and introduce some possible new research directions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Female
  • Genes, BRCA1 / physiology
  • Genes, BRCA2 / physiology
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • Genetic Testing
  • Humans
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase
  • Phosphoric Monoester Hydrolases / genetics
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / genetics
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / genetics


  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins
  • Phosphoric Monoester Hydrolases
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase
  • PTEN protein, human

Associated data

  • OMIM/113705
  • OMIM/191170
  • OMIM/600185
  • OMIM/601728