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Cell Mol Life Sci. 2012 Jan;69(2):223-45. doi: 10.1007/s00018-011-0809-0. Epub 2011 Sep 16.

Genomic instability in breast and ovarian cancers: translation into clinical predictive biomarkers.

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Division of Molecular Biology, Netherlands Cancer Institute, Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Hospital, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Breast and ovarian cancer are among the most common malignancies diagnosed in women worldwide. Together, they account for the majority of cancer-related deaths in women. These cancer types share a number of features, including their association with hereditary cancer syndromes caused by heterozygous germline mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2. BRCA-associated breast and ovarian cancers are hallmarked by genomic instability and high sensitivity to DNA double-strand break (DSB) inducing agents due to loss of error-free DSB repair via homologous recombination (HR). Recently, poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase inhibitors, a new class of drugs that selectively target HR-deficient tumor cells, have been shown to be highly active in BRCA-associated breast and ovarian cancers. This finding has renewed interest in hallmarks of HR deficiency and the use of other DSB-inducing agents, such as platinum salts or bifunctional alkylators, in breast and ovarian cancer patients. In this review we discuss the similarities between breast and ovarian cancer, the hallmarks of genomic instability in BRCA-mutated and BRCA-like breast and ovarian cancers, and the efforts to search for predictive markers of HR deficiency in order to individualize therapy in breast and ovarian cancer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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