Cancer incidence in relatives of a population-based set of cases of early-onset breast cancer with a known BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation status

Breast Cancer Res. 2003;5(6):R175-86. doi: 10.1186/bcr632. Epub 2003 Aug 7.


Background: Relatives of breast cancer cases have an increased risk of the disease. The risk increases with increasing numbers and decreasing age of onset of affected relatives. In families with a BRCA1 or a BRCA2 mutation, individual carrier status predicts the risk of breast cancer. In relatives of cases where both BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations are excluded, the risk remains undetermined.

Methods: Standardized incidence ratios (SIRs) and cumulative cancer incidences were calculated for relatives of a population-based set of early-onset breast cancer index cases (younger than age 41 years) with a defined BRCA mutation status (n = 203).

Results: In first-degree relatives (FDRs) of mutation-negative cases, breast cancer incidences (SIR = 2.3), prostate cancer incidences (SIR = 1.7), cervix cancer incidences (SIR = 3.3) and nonmelanoma skin cancer incidences (SIR = 2.8) were increased. The risks of breast cancer, prostate cancer and nonmelanoma skin cancer were further increased in FDRs of breast cancer cases younger than 36 years of age. In high-risk individuals with at least one relative with breast cancer apart from the index case, but no BRCA mutation in the family, breast cancer incidence was increased (SIR = 5.3); again the prostate cancer incidence was elevated (SIR = 2.5). The cumulative incidence of breast cancer at ages 50 and 70 years for FDRs of index cases without a BRCA mutation was 3.6% and 12.8%, respectively. Similarly, the cumulative incidence of breast cancer for high-risk women was 6.3% and 21.1% at ages 50 and 70 years, and that for FDRs of BRCA mutation carriers was 17.2% and 27.7% at the same ages.

Conclusion: The incidence of breast cancer is increased for FDRs of women with early-onset breast cancer irrespective of the BRCA status in the family. Risk increases with decreasing age and with increasing number of affected relatives. The incidences of prostate cancer, cervix cancer and nonmelanoma skin cancer are elevated for FDRs of early-onset breast cancer cases without a BRCA mutation, indicating a possible association between these cancers and early-onset breast cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age of Onset
  • BRCA1 Protein / genetics*
  • BRCA2 Protein / genetics*
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Family Health
  • Female
  • Genetic Testing / methods
  • Heterozygote
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Mutation
  • Pedigree
  • Probability
  • Sweden / epidemiology


  • BRCA1 Protein
  • BRCA2 Protein