Prevalence of BRCA mutations in an unselected population of triple-negative breast cancer

Cancer. 2012 Jun 1;118(11):2787-95. doi: 10.1002/cncr.26576. Epub 2011 Oct 5.


Background: This study assessed BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation prevalence in an unselected cohort of patients with triple-negative breast cancer (BC).

Methods: One hundred ninety-nine patients were enrolled. Triple negativity was defined as <1% estrogen and progesterone staining by immunohistochemistry and HER-2/neu not overexpressed by fluorescence in situ hybridization. Having given consent, patients had BRCA1 and BRCA2 full sequencing and large rearrangement analysis. Mutation prevalence was assessed among the triple-negative BC patients and the subset of patients without a family history of breast/ovarian cancer. Independent pathological review was completed on 50 patients.

Results: Twenty-one deleterious BRCA mutations were identified--13 in BRCA1 and 8 in BRCA2 (prevalence, 10.6%). In 153 patients (76.9%) without significant family history (first-degree or second-degree relatives with BC aged <50 years or ovarian cancer at any age), 8 (5.2%) mutations were found. By using prior National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines recommending testing for triple-negative BC patients aged <45 years, 4 of 21 mutations (19%) would have been missed. Two of 21 mutations (10%) would have been missed using updated NCCN guidelines recommending testing for triple-negative BC patients aged <60 years.

Conclusions: The observed mutation rate was significantly higher (P = .0005) than expected based on previously established prevalence tables among patients unselected for pathology. BRCA1 mutation prevalence was lower, and BRCA2 mutation prevalence was higher, than previously described. Additional mutation carriers would have met new NCCN testing guidelines, underscoring the value of the updated criteria. Study data suggest that by increasing the age limit to 65 years, all carriers would have been identified.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Genes, BRCA1*
  • Genes, BRCA2*
  • Humans
  • Mutation Rate*
  • Neoplasms, Hormone-Dependent / genetics