Risk of Breast Cancer Among Carriers of Pathogenic Variants in Breast Cancer Predisposition Genes Varies by Polygenic Risk Score

J Clin Oncol. 2021 Aug 10;39(23):2564-2573. doi: 10.1200/JCO.20.01992. Epub 2021 Jun 8.


Purpose: This study assessed the joint association of pathogenic variants (PVs) in breast cancer (BC) predisposition genes and polygenic risk scores (PRS) with BC in the general population.

Methods: A total of 26,798 non-Hispanic white BC cases and 26,127 controls from predominately population-based studies in the Cancer Risk Estimates Related to Susceptibility consortium were evaluated for PVs in BRCA1, BRCA2, ATM, CHEK2, PALB2, BARD1, BRIP1, CDH1, and NF1. PRS based on 105 common variants were created using effect estimates from BC genome-wide association studies; the performance of an overall BC PRS and estrogen receptor-specific PRS were evaluated. The odds of BC based on the PVs and PRS were estimated using penalized logistic regression. The results were combined with age-specific incidence rates to estimate 5-year and lifetime absolute risks of BC across percentiles of PRS by PV status and first-degree family history of BC.

Results: The estimated lifetime risks of BC among general-population noncarriers, based on 10th and 90th percentiles of PRS, were 9.1%-23.9% and 6.7%-18.2% for women with or without first-degree relatives with BC, respectively. Taking PRS into account, more than 95% of BRCA1, BRCA2, and PALB2 carriers had > 20% lifetime risks of BC, whereas, respectively, 52.5% and 69.7% of ATM and CHEK2 carriers without first-degree relatives with BC, and 78.8% and 89.9% of those with a first-degree relative with BC had > 20% risk.

Conclusion: PRS facilitates personalization of BC risk among carriers of PVs in predisposition genes. Incorporating PRS into BC risk estimation may help identify > 30% of CHEK2 and nearly half of ATM carriers below the 20% lifetime risk threshold, suggesting the addition of PRS may prevent overscreening and enable more personalized risk management approaches.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genetic Variation / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors

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