Ethnic differences in cancer incidence and mortality result from differences in genetic and epidemiologic risk factors. Mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 account for a small proportion of all breast cancer cases, but for a much higher proportion of cases with a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer. Germline mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 have been identified in individuals of many races and ethnic groups and the frequency of mutations varies between these groups. Some of the differences in cancer risk between populations may be the result of founder mutations in these genes. The cost and time required for mutation analysis are reduced considerably when founder mutations are identified for a specific ethnic group. The BRCA2 999del5 mutation in Iceland and three BRCA mutations in Ashkenazi Jews are well characterized. However, considerably less is known about the contribution of mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes outside of European groups. Studies conducted on the Asian populations described here have expanded our current knowledge of genetic susceptibility and its contribution to breast and ovarian cancer rates in Asian populations.
Copyright 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.