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J Clin Oncol. 2010 May 20;28(15):2505-11. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2009.25.1082. Epub 2010 Apr 20.

Increased incidence of visceral metastases in scottish patients with BRCA1/2-defective ovarian cancer: an extension of the ovarian BRCAness phenotype.

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  • 1University of Edinburgh Cancer Research Centre, Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine, Western General Hospital, Edinburgh, UK.



To compare the frequency of visceral relapse of BRCA1/2-deficient ovarian cancer to that of nonhereditary controls.


All patients diagnosed in Scotland with epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) or primary peritoneal cancer (PPC) and a germline BRCA1/2 mutation were identified. Those with previous malignancy were excluded. Each remaining patient who experienced relapse was matched with two nonhereditary controls.


Seventy-nine patients with EOC/PPC and germline BRCA1/2 mutations were identified. Fifteen had inadequate clinical data, two had carcinosarcoma, 27 had previous breast cancer, and 16 were in remission. Of the remaining 19 patients who were BRCA1/2 deficient, 14 patients (74%) developed visceral metastases compared with six (16%) of 38 patients in the control group. The percentages of liver, lung, and splenic metastases were 53%, 32%, and 32%, respectively, in the patients compared with 5%, 3%, and 5%, respectively, in the controls. When events occurring outside the matched follow-up period were omitted, the percentages of visceral, liver, lung, and splenic metastases were 58%, 42%, 16%, and 32% in the patients compared with 5%, 0%, 0%, and 3% in controls (P < .001, P < .001, P = .066, and P = .011, respectively). In an independent validation set, the corresponding percentages of visceral, liver, lung, and splenic metastases were 63%, 46%, 13%, and 17% in the patients compared with 11%, 4%, 2%, and 2% in controls (P < .001, P < .001, P = .153, and P = .052, respectively).


Although sporadic EOC commonly remains confined to the peritoneum, BRCA1/2-deficient ovarian cancer frequently metastasizes to viscera. These data extend the ovarian BRCAness phenotype, imply BRCA1/2-deficient ovarian cancer is biologically distinct, and suggest that patients with visceral metastases should be considered for BRCA1/2 sequencing.

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