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Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2008 Aug;17(8):1843-8. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-08-0556.

The role of the BRCA2 gene in susceptibility to prostate cancer revisited.

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  • 1Cancer Genetic Branch, National Human Genome Research Institute, NIH, Room 52451, Building 50, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA. eostrand@mail.nih.gov


Prostate cancer is a genetically complex disease with multiple predisposing factors affecting presentation, progression, and outcome. Epidemiologic studies have long shown an aggregation of breast and prostate cancer in some families. More recently, studies have reported an apparent excess of prostate cancer cases among BRCA2 mutation-carrying families. Additionally, population-based screens of early-onset prostate cancer patients have suggested that the prevalence of deleterious BRCA2 mutations in this group is 1% to 2%, imparting a significantly increased risk of the disease compared with noncarrier cases. However, studies of high-risk prostate cancer families suggest that BRCA2 plays at most a minimal role in these individuals, highlighting the potential genetic heterogeneity of the disease. In this commentary, we review the current literature and hypotheses surrounding the relationship between BRCA2 mutations and susceptibility to prostate cancer and speculate on the potential for involvement of additional genes.

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