Background: Previously, small studies have found that BRCA1 and BRCA2 breast tumors differ in their pathology. Analysis of larger datasets of mutation carriers should allow further tumor characterization.
Methods: We used data from 4,325 BRCA1 and 2,568 BRCA2 mutation carriers to analyze the pathology of invasive breast, ovarian, and contralateral breast cancers.
Results: There was strong evidence that the proportion of estrogen receptor (ER)-negative breast tumors decreased with age at diagnosis among BRCA1 (P-trend = 1.2 × 10(-5)), but increased with age at diagnosis among BRCA2, carriers (P-trend = 6.8 × 10(-6)). The proportion of triple-negative tumors decreased with age at diagnosis in BRCA1 carriers but increased with age at diagnosis of BRCA2 carriers. In both BRCA1 and BRCA2 carriers, ER-negative tumors were of higher histologic grade than ER-positive tumors (grade 3 vs. grade 1; P = 1.2 × 10(-13) for BRCA1 and P = 0.001 for BRCA2). ER and progesterone receptor (PR) expression were independently associated with mutation carrier status [ER-positive odds ratio (OR) for BRCA2 = 9.4, 95% CI: 7.0-12.6 and PR-positive OR = 1.7, 95% CI: 1.3-2.3, under joint analysis]. Lobular tumors were more likely to be BRCA2-related (OR for BRCA2 = 3.3, 95% CI: 2.4-4.4; P = 4.4 × 10(-14)), and medullary tumors BRCA1-related (OR for BRCA2 = 0.25, 95% CI: 0.18-0.35; P = 2.3 × 10(-15)). ER-status of the first breast cancer was predictive of ER-status of asynchronous contralateral breast cancer (P = 0.0004 for BRCA1; P = 0.002 for BRCA2). There were no significant differences in ovarian cancer morphology between BRCA1 and BRCA2 carriers (serous: 67%; mucinous: 1%; endometrioid: 12%; clear-cell: 2%). CONCLUSIONS/IMPACT: Pathologic characteristics of BRCA1 and BRCA2 tumors may be useful for improving risk-prediction algorithms and informing clinical strategies for screening and prophylaxis.