Introduction: Common variants that alter breast cancer risk are being discovered. Here, we determine how these variants influence breast cancer prognosis, risk and tumour characteristics.
Methods: We selected 1,001 women with early onset nonfamilial invasive breast cancer from the Prospective study of Outcomes in Sporadic versus Hereditary breast cancer (POSH) cohort and genotyped 206 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) across 30 candidate genes. After quality control, 899 cases and 133 SNPs remained. Survival analyses were used to identify SNPs associated with prognosis and determine their interdependency with recognized prognostic factors. To identify SNPs that alter breast cancer risk, association tests were used to compare cases with controls from the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium. To search for SNPs affecting tumour biology, cases were stratified into subgroups according to oestrogen receptor (ER) status and grade and tested for association.
Results: We confirmed previous associations between increased breast cancer risk and SNPs in CASP8, TOX3 (previously known as TNRC9) and ESR1. Analysis of prognosis identified eight SNPs in six genes (MAP3K1, DAPK1, LSP1, MMP7, TOX3 and ESR1) and one region without genes on 8q24 that are associated with survival. For MMP7, TOX3 and MAP3K1 the effects on survival are independent of the main recognized clinical prognostic factors. The SNP in 8q24 is more weakly associated with independent effects on survival. Once grade and pathological nodal status (pN stage) were taken into account, SNPs in ESR1 and LSP1 showed no independent survival difference, whereas the effects of the DAPK1 SNP were removed when correcting for ER status. Interestingly, effects on survival for SNPs in ESR1 were most significant when only ER-positive tumours were examined. Stratifying POSH cases by tumour characteristics identified SNPs in FGFR2 and TOX3 associated with ER-positive disease and SNPs in ATM associated with ER-negative disease.
Conclusions: We have demonstrated that several SNPs are associated with survival. In some cases this appears to be due to an effect on tumour characteristics known to have a bearing on prognosis; in other cases the effect appears to be independent of these prognostic factors. These findings require validation by further studies in similar patient groups.