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Math Biosci. 2001 May;171(1):99-111.

A computer model to simulate family history of breast/ovarian cancer in BRCA1 mutation carriers.

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Department of Health Care and Epidemiology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada.


The BRCA1 gene and its relationship to family history of breast/ovarian cancer are difficult to study in a population because of practical and ethical issues. The paucity of information on BRCA1 in the general population was a major theme in a recent review of genetic testing in Canada. We develop a simulation model to mimic genetic inheritance and cancer incidence in the family of someone with a germline BRCA1 mutation. Given someone's age and family structure, our model simulates his or her family history in three steps: (1) determine which family members have the mutation, (2) determine the ages of family members and (3) determine which family members have breast/ovarian cancer. Each step involves random variation. Some parameters in our model are estimated using local (British Columbia, Canada) population data. The breast/ovarian cancer risk associated with BRCA1 mutations is estimated using values published in the literature. An example is provided to illustrate the model's application. The model incorporates results from genetics, demography and epidemiology, but requires several additional assumptions. Research to address these assumptions is recommended.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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