Improved survival in women with BRCA-associated ovarian carcinoma

Cancer. 2003 May 1;97(9):2187-95. doi: 10.1002/cncr.11310.


Background: The objective of this study was to determine the clinical characteristics, treatment response, and frequency of p53 overexpression in Ashkenazi Jewish women with hereditary ovarian carcinoma.

Methods: Seventy-one Jewish women with epithelial ovarian carcinoma (EOC) were tested for the three BRCA founder mutations using single-strand conformation polymorphism analysis, heteroduplex analysis, and protein truncation testing. Clinical and histopathologic data were reviewed retrospectively. In vitro chemoresistance was analyzed in 32 patients. Mutations of p53 were studied using immunohistochemical detection of p53 overexpression.

Results: Thirty-four of 71 Jewish patients with EOC (48%) had germline BRCA mutations (BRCA heterozygotes), including 22 BRCA1 mutations and 12 BRCA2 mutations. BRCA heterozygotes were younger compared with Jewish patients who had EOC without mutations (sporadic carcinoma; 50 years vs. 59 years, respectively; P = 0.01). BRCA1 heterozygotes were younger compared with BRCA2 heterozygotes (48 years vs. 57 years, respectively; P = 0.01). Histopathologic tumor features were similar; however, tumors with low malignant potential were seen only in women with sporadic carcinoma. Both groups had equivalent rates of surgical cytoreduction and similar median follow-up (72 months). BRCA heterozygotes had higher response rates to primary therapy compared with patients who had sporadic disease (P = 0.01). In vitro chemoresistance predicted tumor response to platinum chemotherapy correctly in BRCA heterozygotes (P = 0.0096). BRCA heterozygotes with advance-stage disease had improved survival compared with patients who had advanced stage sporadic carcinoma (91 months vs. 54 months, respectively; P = 0.046) and had a longer disease free interval (49 months vs. 19 months, respectively; P = 0.16). p53 overexpression was common in BRCA heterozygotes (80%).

Conclusions: BRCA1 heterozygotes developed EOC at a younger age compared with BRCA2 heterozygotes and women who had sporadic ovarian carcinoma. BRCA heterozygotes had a better response to platinum chemotherapy compared with women who had sporadic disease, which may have contributed to their improved prognosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • California / epidemiology
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Genes, BRCA1*
  • Genes, BRCA2*
  • Genes, p53
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Jews / genetics
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / ethnology
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Survival Rate


  • Antineoplastic Agents