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BRCA mutations do not increase risk of colorectal cancer

ANN ARBOR, MI People with mutations in BRCA genes or a family history of breast cancer now have one less thing to worry about. Although their chances of developing breast or ovarian cancer are high, new research shows their colorectal cancer risk is about the same as that of the general population.

"People carrying BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations already have their plates full managing a high risk of breast and ovarian cancer," says Stephen B. Gruber, M.D., Ph.D., a cancer geneticist in the U-M's Comprehensive Cancer Center. "The good news in our study is that they don't have to deal with an increased risk of colorectal cancer, as well."

Results of the study will be published in the Jan. 7 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Scientists have known for years that mutations in genes called BRCA1 and BRCA2 are associated with a much higher incidence of breast and ovarian cancer. Studies to determine whether BRCA mutations also increase the risk of colorectal cancer, however, have produced mixed and inconsistent results.

In the current study, Gruber and colleagues tested blood samples from 1,422 patients with colorectal cancer and 1,566 control subjects without colorectal cancer for mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2.

Study participants were selected from the population-based Molecular Epidemiology of Colorectal Cancer (MECC) study in northern Israel a collaboration between Gruber and Gad Rennert, M.D., Ph.D, of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology Faculty of Medicine and Carmel Medical Center in Haifa, Israel. Colorectal cancer patients in the study were all treated at five major hospitals in northern Israel. They were matched with study participants without colorectal cancer who were of the same age, sex, ethnicity and from the same geographic area.

U-M scientists used DNA assays designed to identify three specific mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes. Called founder mutations, they are present in abou
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Contact: Sally Pobojewski
pobo@umich.edu
734-764-2220
University of Michigan Health System
6-Jan-2004


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