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June 13, 2007

BRCA2 Mutation Associated with Aggressive Prostate Cancer

  • A gene closely linked to breast cancer has been found to have a variation that is associated with prostate cancer. Carriers of a BRCA2 variation specific to Iceland are more likely to develop aggressive and lethal prostate cancer than noncarriers, according to researchers working with the Icelandic Cancer Registry.

    The scientists compared survival and disease progression in prostate cancer patients with and without the BRCA2 999del5 founder mutation. Using a pool of male relatives of women with breast cancer, researchers identified prostate cancer patients diagnosed in Iceland between 1955 and 2004. The mutation was present in 5.7% of the patients.

    The mutation’s carriers were younger at the time of diagnosis and had more advanced-stage cancer, higher-grade tumors, and shorter median survival time (2.1 years vs. 12.4 years) compared with noncarriers.

    The study was published online, June 12, in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. “This work may clarify when and how BRCA2 mutations alter carcinogenesis. More generally, it offers an avenue for improving the accuracy of information available to patients when they are diagnosed with cancer.  Nonetheless, the immediate clinical utility of these findings is limited, despite unusually rigorous design and analysis,” the authors wrote.

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