Triple-negative breast cancer frequency and type of BRCA mutation: Clues from Sardinia

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Germline mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes have been demonstrated to increase the risk of developing breast cancer. Among the prognostic factors currently used in clinical practice, the disease stage and the receptor status play a crucial role in the management of breast carcinoma. Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) has been classified as a disease subgroup that is negative for oestrogen, progesterone and HER2 receptor expression, and presents a poor prognosis. The present study investigated the correlation between BRCA1/2 mutations and TNBC status in a large series (n=726) of breast cancer patients from Sardinia. The BRCA mutation screening was performed on genomic DNA from peripheral blood samples by denaturing high-performance liquid chromatography analysis and automated DNA sequencing. Overall, 21/726 (2.9%) patients carried a germline mutation in BRCA1 or BRCA2. The TNBC phenotype was significantly associated with the BRCA1 mutations (P<0.001), whereas no association was found with the BRCA2 mutations (P=0.837). With respect to patient origin within Sardinia, a significant inverse distribution of mutations was found; BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations represented 86 and 93% of the mutated cases in Southern and Middle-Northern Sardinia, respectively (P<0.001). Patients from the geographical area with BRCA1 mutation prevalence presented a TNBC incidence much higher than that observed in cases from the area with BRCA2 mutation prevalence (12 vs. 4%, respectively; P=0.037). These findings further confirmed that the occurrence of TNBC is significantly associated with the BRCA1 mutation carrier status and that a different 'genetic background' may have a phenotypic impact in the onset of breast cancer.




Palomba, G., Budroni, M., Olmeo, N., Atzori, F., Ionta, M. T., Pisano, M., … Palmieri, G. (2014). Triple-negative breast cancer frequency and type of BRCA mutation: Clues from Sardinia. Oncology Letters, 7(4), 948–952.

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