Prevalence of pathogenic BRCA1/2 germline mutations among 802 women with unilateral triple-negative breast cancer without family cancer history

  • Background: There is no international consensus up to which age women with a diagnosis of triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) and no family history of breast or ovarian cancer should be offered genetic testing for germline BRCA1 and BRCA2 (gBRCA) mutations. Here, we explored the association of age at TNBC diagnosis with the prevalence of pathogenic gBRCA mutations in this patient group. Methods: The study comprised 802 women (median age 40 years, range 19–76) with oestrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, and human epidermal growth factor receptor type 2 negative breast cancers, who had no relatives with breast or ovarian cancer. All women were tested for pathogenic gBRCA mutations. Logistic regression analysis was used to explore the association between age at TNBC diagnosis and the presence of a pathogenic gBRCA mutation. Results: A total of 127 women with TNBC (15.8%) were gBRCA mutation carriers (BRCA1: n = 118, 14.7%; BRCA2: n = 9, 1.1%). The mutation prevalence was 32.9% in the age group 20–29 years compared to 6.9% in the age group 60–69 years. Logistic regression analysis revealed a significant increase of mutation frequency with decreasing age at diagnosis (odds ratio 1.87 per 10 year decrease, 95%CI 1.50–2.32, p < 0.001). gBRCA mutation risk was predicted to be > 10% for women diagnosed below approximately 50 years. Conclusions: Based on the general understanding that a heterozygous mutation probability of 10% or greater justifies gBRCA mutation screening, women with TNBC diagnosed before the age of 50 years and no familial history of breast and ovarian cancer should be tested for gBRCA mutations. In Germany, this would concern approximately 880 women with newly diagnosed TNBC per year, of whom approximately 150 are expected to be identified as carriers of a pathogenic gBRCA mutation.

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Author:Christoph EngelORCiDGND, Kerstin Rhiem, Eric Hahnen, Sibylle LoiblORCiDGND, Karsten E. Weber, Sabine Seiler, Silke Zachariae, Jan Hauke, Barbara Wappenschmidt, Anke Waha, Britta Blümcke, Marion Kiechle, Alfons Meindl, Dieter Niederacher, Claus R. Bartram, Dorothee Speiser, Brigitte Schlegelberger, Norbert Arnold, Peter Wieacker, Elena Leinert, Andrea Gehrig, Susanne Briest, Karin Kast, Olaf Rieß, Günter Emons, Bernhard H. F. Weber, Jutta Engel, Rita Katharina Schmutzler
Pubmed Id:
Parent Title (English):BMC cancer
Publisher:BioMed Central ; Springer
Place of publication:London ; Berlin ; Heidelberg
Document Type:Article
Year of Completion:2018
Date of first Publication:2018/03/07
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Contributing Corporation:German Consortium for Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer (GC-HBOC)
Release Date:2018/10/25
Tag:BRCA1; BRCA2; Hereditary breast and ovarian cancer; Triple-negative breast cancer
Issue:1, Art. 265
Page Number:6
First Page:1
Last Page:6
Open Access: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
Institutes:Medizin / Medizin
Dewey Decimal Classification:6 Technik, Medizin, angewandte Wissenschaften / 61 Medizin und Gesundheit / 610 Medizin und Gesundheit
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung 4.0