Cancer treatment according to BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations

Nat Rev Clin Oncol. 2012 Sep;9(9):520-8. doi: 10.1038/nrclinonc.2012.123. Epub 2012 Jul 24.


Identification of germline mutations associated with significant cancer susceptibility has the potential to change all aspects of an individual's care, from screening to cancer treatment. For example, women with germline mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 have markedly elevated risks of breast and ovarian cancer and the identification of these germline mutations has led to specific screening and prevention strategies. More recently, advances in the understanding of the biological function of BRCA1 and BRCA2 have led to clinical trials testing targeted therapies in this population, particularly poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) inhibitors. Unfortunately, the development of PARP inhibitors has not been as rapid as anticipated and has been more challenging than expected. Somatic mutations identified in many cancer types have allowed the development of therapeutics that target these mutated genes, and many of these agents obtained rapid regulatory approval and are currently in widespread clinical practice. Diagnostic testing has a central role in targeted cancer therapeutics for both somatic and germline mutations. Although the era of molecular medicine and targeted therapies has led to significant changes in the practice of oncology, new challenges continue to arise.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • BRCA1 Protein / genetics*
  • BRCA2 Protein / genetics*
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mutation
  • Risk
  • Uterine Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Uterine Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Uterine Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Women's Health


  • BRCA1 Protein
  • BRCA1 protein, human
  • BRCA2 Protein
  • BRCA2 protein, human