Second Breast Cancer Gene Located

DURHAM, N.C. -- A second breast cancer susceptibility gene has been located, researchers at the Duke University Comprehensive Cancer Center and the United Kingdom's Institute for Cancer Research reported Wednesday.

The gene, named BRCA2, likely accounts for the majority of inherited breast cancers not caused by BRCA1, the breast cancer susceptibility gene identified in 1994 by a team led by Mark Skolnick of the University of Utah and Myriad Genetics Inc., according to the researchers.

The Duke and British researchers reported their findings in the Dec. 21 issue of the journal Nature. The principal investigators are P. Andrew Futreal of Duke University Medical Center and Michael Stratton of the Institute for Cancer Research in Surrey, England, whose laboratories collaborated on the discovery.

"This finding means that we really are narrowing in on this dreaded cancer," said Barbara Rimer, chairman of the National Cancer Advisory Board and professor of community and family medicine at Duke. "But it makes it more important than ever that we learn how to counsel women about their options and how to develop clinics to provide support services for the women who may carry breast cancer genes."

As with BRCA1, the researchers said they expect that women who inherit BRCA2 may have up to an 85 percent chance of developing breast cancer. Members of families with the BRCA2 gene also seem to be at greater risk for several other cancers, including male breast cancer, prostate cancer and ocular melanoma.

Unlike BRCA1, however, inheriting a defective copy of BRCA2 does not appear to put women at a significantly greater risk of developing ovarian cancer, although the risk is still higher than the general population, the researchers said.

A total of 182,000 U.S. women and 29,000 women in the United Kingdom were expected to develop breast cancer in 1995, according to estimates fro

Contact: David Rice
Duke University

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