Stomach cancer ranks second to lung cancer in the global cancer burden. It is estimated that 25% of families meeting the criteria for hereditary diffuse gastric carcinoma (HDCG) will have germline mutations in the E-cadherin gene. Evidence suggests that stomach cancer might also be a malignant manifestation of other inherited predispositions to disease. Recently, it has been reported that the incidence of stomach cancer is significantly increased in BRCA2 gene mutation carriers. We analysed by direct sequencing the BRCA2 gene in 29 breast cancer patients derived from 29 families with an aggregation of at least one female breast cancer diagnosed before the age of 50 years and one male stomach cancer diagnosed before the age of 55 years. In all but one of these families at least one additional relative was also affected by a malignant tumour. We identified three frameshift mutations and three sequence variants - potentially missense mutations, in six unrelated patients representing 20.7% (six out of 29) of the families investigated. Our results confirm that BRCA2 gene mutations are also associated with familial aggregations of not only breast but also of stomach cancer. In comparison to the number of cancers expected in the study population compared to the general population there is an over-representation of several cancers with significant confidence intervals to suggest that the associations are real and not a selection artefact.
Copyright 2002 Cancer Research UK