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Eur J Cancer. 2005 Mar;41(4):549-54. Epub 2005 Jan 11.

Early detection of breast and ovarian cancer in families with BRCA mutations.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Oncology, Leiden University Medical Center, The Netherlands.


Women at risk of breast and ovarian cancer due to a genetic predisposition may opt for preventive surgery or surveillance. The aim of this study was to determine the effectiveness of surveillance in families with a BRCA mutation. Sixty-eight BRCA-families underwent surveillance using annual mammography, transvaginal ultrasound, and estimation of CA125. Two hundred and two women had at least one breast examination, and 138 at least one examination of the ovaries. After a mean follow-up of 33 months, breast cancer was detected in 21 women, four with lymph node metastases. After a mean follow-up of 37 months, six advanced ovarian cancers were detected. The percentage of metastatic breast cancers in the current study appeared to be acceptable. However, because these women have a high-risk of developing breast cancer, they still have a substantial risk of developing metastatic disease under surveillance. Surveillance for ovarian cancer was not effective.

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