Case Report

Co-existence of breast and ovarian cancers in BRCA germ-line mutation carriers

25 Nov 2008
A Dilawari, J Cangiarella, J Smith, A Huang, A Downey, F Muggia

The co-existence of breast and ovarian cancers in the same individual should raise suspicion of a hereditary process. Patients with either BRCA1 or BRCA2 germ-line mutations have an average risk of 39% and 11% respectively of developing ovarian cancer by the age of 70; they have a risk of 35–85% of developing breast cancer in their lifetime . We report here unusual pathologic features in a BRCA2 germ-line mutation carrier recently diagnosed with synchronous breast and ovarian cancers, and summarize the findings in six other women who were diagnosed with ovarian cancer either simultaneously with the diagnosis of breast cancer or at varying times after the diagnosis. While in most instances this may be a coincidental occurrence in highly susceptible individuals, the patient we highlight raises the provocative hypothesis that at times breast cancer metastasizes to the ovaries of mutation carriers and stimulates the development of an ovarian cancer as well as other cancers. In addition, these ovarian cancers may have different mechanisms of metastases predisposing them to travel to unusual sites.

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