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Breast J. 2012 Sep;18(5):436-42. doi: 10.1111/j.1524-4741.2012.01274.x.

Genetic determinants of breast cancer risk: a review of current literature and issues pertaining to clinical application.

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1
Section of Hematology/Oncology Department of Medicine, Section of Hematology/Oncology, Center for Clinical Cancer Genetics and Global Health, University of Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA.

Abstract

Despite major advances in breast cancer therapy, annual mortality remains significant with a sizeable proportion of patients eventually succumbing to metastatic disease. Clearly, optimizing approaches for identification and management of women at heightened risk for breast cancer will reduce overall morbidity and mortality from the disease. Over the past few decades, advances in molecular genetics and linkage analyses have allowed for the identification of specific germline mutations underlying a significant fraction of hereditary breast cancer. Genome-wide association studies have been developed as a powerful tool in identifying lower penetrance mutations, and it is believed that such genome-level variations may act in concert to give rise to the majority of inherited breast cancer risk. Controversies and uncertainties remain in clinical application of newly identified genomic loci that confer genetic susceptibility. This article reviews the well-characterized breast cancer susceptibility genes, highlights recent publications pertaining to the less well known and lower penetrance genetic polymorphisms, summarizes challenges in translating research findings to the clinical scenario, and offers some recommendations for clinical practice.

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