Familial breast cancer was first recognized in the Roman medical literature of 100 AD (1). The first documentation of familial clustering of breast cancer in modern times was published by Broca, who reported 10 cases of breast cancer in 4 generations of his wife’s family (2). In the middle of nineties it was proven at molecular level that substantial number of breast and ovarian cancers has hereditary monogenic etiology (3, 4). Evaluation of frequency of pedigree-clinical signs characteristic for strong aggregations of breast/ovarian cancers among consecutive cases of cancers of these organs as well as analyses of cancer incidence in monozygotic tweens indicate that about 30% of breast and ovarian cancers develop because of strong genetic predisposition (5). In other breast/ovarian cancers significance of genetic factors was underestimated. However, recently it was possible to show characteristic constitutional baground influencing development of cancer also in patients with sporadic neoplasms. Therefore now, scientists think that in almost all patients with cancer a certain genetic backgroung should be detectable although influencing cancer risk with different degree. Genetic abnormalities strongly related with cancer are called high risk changes (genes) and abnormalities influencing cancer development with lower degree are called moderate risk changes (genes). In Polish population most frequently strong genetic predisposition to breast/ovarian cancers are related to mutations in BRCA1, CHEK2 or PALB2 genes. Mutations in BRCA2 gene are observed relatively rare. Mutations in these genes most often apeare as syndromes of hereditary breast cancer – site specific (HBC-ss), hereditary breast-ovarian cancer (HBOC) and hereditary ovarian cancer (HOC). In family members of families with HBC-ss syndrome only breast cancers but not ovarian cancers are observed. In HBOC syndrome families with both – breast and ovarian cancers are diagnosed and in HOC syndrome only ovarian but not breast cancers are detected. Operational clinical-pedigree criteria which we use in order to diagnose the discussed syndromes are summarized in table 1. In vast majority of cancer cases related to moderate risk genes family history is negative. HBC-ss, HBOC, HOC syndromes are clinically and molecullary heterogenous. Mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are the most frequent cause of these syndromes. Recently, it was shown that in substantial number of such families, the syndrome develop because of truncating mutations in CHEK2 gene or PALB2 genes (6, 7).
So far, several changes with potential significance in modification of the cancer risk have been identified. Multicenter study of CIMBA consortium suggest that these changes alone are weak and likely the effect is variable in different populations (14-29).
In Poland in about 30% of families with definitively diagnosed HBC-ss and HBOC syndromes and in about 40% of families with HOC syndrome, BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations are not detected. In rare cases it is possible to diagnose one of rare syndromes listed in table 3. In these syndromes breast/ovarian cancers are observed with higher frequency. Many groups in the world try to identify new genes related to high breast cancer risk.
– carriers of mutations of high breast/ovarian cancer risk; usually around 50% of female family members shoud be included into program,
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