Effect of BRCA1 and BRCA2 on the association between breast cancer risk and family history

J Natl Cancer Inst. 1998 Dec 2;90(23):1824-9. doi: 10.1093/jnci/90.23.1824.


Background: The discovery of BRCA1 and BRCA2 has led to a reassessment of the association between family history of breast/ovarian cancer and breast cancer risk after controlling for carrier status for mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. We examined whether family history of breast cancer remains a predictive risk factor for this disease after carrier status for BRCA1 and/or BRCA2 mutations is taken into consideration.

Methods: The data are from 4730 case subjects with breast cancer and 4688 control subjects enrolled in the Cancer and Steroid Hormone Study. The probability of being a BRCA1 and/or BRCA2 gene carrier was calculated for each woman. Among predicted noncarriers, logistic regression was used to assess the relationship (odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals [CIs]) between case or control status and family history of breast or ovarian cancer. Estimates of age-specific breast cancer risk are presented by predicted carrier status.

Results: Among predicted noncarriers, case subjects were 2.06 times (95% CI = 1.69-2.50) and 1.24 times (95% CI = 1.17-1.32) more likely to report a first-degree or second-degree family history of breast cancer, respectively, than were control subjects. Case subjects were 1.99 times (95% CI = 1.63-2.44), 1.66 times (95% CI = 1.18-2.38), and 2.23 times (95% CI = 0.21-24.65) more likely to report an affected mother, sister, or both, respectively, than were control subjects. A family history of ovarian cancer was not statistically significantly associated with breast cancer risk. Noncarriers were predicted to have a lifetime risk of 9% of developing breast cancer compared with a 63% risk for carriers.

Conclusions: Among women with a moderate family history of breast cancer, i.e., predicted noncarriers of BRCA1 and/or BRCA2 mutations, family history remains a factor in predicting breast cancer risk. In families with breast and ovarian cancers, the aggregation of these two cancers appears to be explained by BRCA1/BRCA2 mutation-carrier probability.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Genes, BRCA1*
  • Genes, Tumor Suppressor*
  • Heterozygote*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Risk
  • Risk Factors