Lifetime cancer risks in individuals with germline PTEN mutations

Clin Cancer Res. 2012 Jan 15;18(2):400-7. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-11-2283.


Purpose: Age-adjusted cancer incidence and age-related penetrance studies have helped guide cancer risk assessment and management. PTEN hamartoma tumor syndrome (PHTS) is a term encompassing subsets of several clinical syndromes with germline mutations in the PTEN tumor suppressor gene. We conducted the first prospective study to clarify corresponding cancer risks to shed biologic insights on human germline PTEN mutations, and to better inform current surveillance recommendations on the basis of expert opinion.

Experimental design: A series of 3,399 individuals meeting relaxed International Cowden Consortium PHTS criteria were prospectively recruited; 368 individuals were found to have deleterious germline PTEN mutations. Age-adjusted standardized incidence ratio (SIR) calculations and genotype-phenotype analyses were carried out.

Results: Elevated SIRs were found for carcinomas of the breast [25.4, 95% confidence interval (CI), 19.8-32.0], thyroid (51.1, 38.1-67.1), endometrium (42.9, 28.1-62.8), colorectum (10.3, 5.6-17.4), kidney (30.6, 17.8-49.4), and melanoma (8.5, 4.1-15.6). Estimated lifetime risks were, respectively, 85.2% (95% CI, 71.4%-99.1%), 35.2% (19.7%-50.7%), 28.2% (17.1%-39.3%), 9.0% (3.8%-14.1%), 33.6% (10.4%-56.9%), and 6% (1.6%-9.4%). Promoter mutations were associated with breast cancer, whereas colorectal cancer was associated with nonsense mutations.

Conclusion: Lifetime risks for a variety of cancers, now extending to colorectal cancer, kidney cancer, and melanoma, are increased in patients with PTEN mutations. The genotype-phenotype associations here may provide new insights on PTEN structure and function. We propose a comprehensive approach to surveillance of patients with PTEN mutations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Codon, Nonsense*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / genetics
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / genetics
  • Female
  • Genetic Association Studies
  • Germ-Line Mutation*
  • Hamartoma Syndrome, Multiple / epidemiology
  • Hamartoma Syndrome, Multiple / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Kidney Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Kidney Neoplasms / genetics
  • Mutation, Missense*
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase / genetics*
  • Penetrance
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / genetics


  • Codon, Nonsense
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase
  • PTEN protein, human