Association between clinical characteristics and risk-reduction interventions in women who underwent BRCA1 and BRCA2 testing: a single-institution study

Cancer. 2006 Dec 15;107(12):2745-51. doi: 10.1002/cncr.22352.


Background: Women who are at increased risk for breast and ovarian cancers, especially BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers, face a myriad of risk-reduction options, including increased surveillance, chemoprevention, prophylactic oophorectomy, and prophylactic mastectomy. However, little is known about which clinical, demographic, or cancer-related factors are associated with risk-reduction interventions.

Methods: The authors conducted a retrospective review of records for 554 women who had undergone testing at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center between 2000 and 2006 for deleterious BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations. Data were collected on the risk-reduction interventions these women adopted after they underwent genetic testing. These data were tested for associations with demographic and clinical characteristics.

Results: Among the 554 women who underwent genetic testing for BRCA mutation, 78 were found to have a deleterious mutation in the BRCA1 gene, and 54 had a mutation in the BRCA 2 gene. Of the 554 women, 85 underwent prophylactic mastectomy, 30 prophylactic oophorectomy, and 52 both surgeries; 387 women opted for surveillance. Women who had BRCA mutations, a history of breast cancer or ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), or previous breast biopsies were more likely to have prophylactic surgery. Women with a family history of ovarian cancer were more likely to undergo prophylactic oophorectomy. Women with a personal history of ovarian cancer or advanced breast cancer were more likely to undergo surveillance only. Women with breast cancer who had had a total mastectomy as part of their prior breast cancer treatment underwent prophylactic mastectomy more frequently than women who either had breast-conserving surgery or no history of breast cancer. In multivariate analysis, only positive BRCA mutation carrier status was associated with having had prophylactic surgery. In addition, breast cancer history was significantly associated with prophylactic mastectomy.

Conclusions: Women who were BRCA carriers, women who had a history of breast cancer, DCIS, or breast biopsy, or had a family history of ovarian cancer were more likely to have undergone surgery for cancer risk reduction. Women with ovarian cancer or advanced breast cancer were more likely to have undergone surveillance.

MeSH terms

  • BRCA1 Protein / genetics*
  • BRCA2 Protein / genetics*
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Breast Neoplasms / surgery
  • Female
  • Genetic Testing
  • Heterozygote
  • Humans
  • Mastectomy
  • Mutation
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / surgery
  • Ovariectomy
  • Primary Prevention / methods*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors


  • BRCA1 Protein
  • BRCA2 Protein