Reducing breast cancer incidence in familial breast cancer: overlooking the present panorama


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Abstract

Familial breast cancer, whether associated or not with particular other breast cancer features (male, early onset, bilateral breast cancer), determines a wide and variable risk of developing breast cancer in the ‘unpatients’ (unaffected individuals) of these families, particularly in those harboring a genetic predisposition. The antiestrogen tamoxifen has been proposed in different trials to prevent breast cancer in women at risk. The NSABP-P1 study demonstrated that tamoxifen drastically reduced (by ∼50%) the incidence of breast cancer in women at risk selected according to the Gail score. The preventive effect was particularly consistent in postmenopausal women and in those showing familial breast cancer (three or more affected patients). BRCA1/BRCA2 (BRCA1/2) gene analysis in women accrued in the NSABP-P1 trial who developed breast cancer showed that tamoxifen chemoprevention reduced breast cancer incidence in BRCA2 carriers. Different chemoprevention trials are ongoing to compare different selective estrogen receptor modulators and aromatase inhibitors with tamoxifen. The Italian Consortium of Hereditary Breast Ovarian Cancer recently developed the Aromasin® Prevention Study, a multicenter, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled phase III study evaluating the effect of the aromatase inhibitor exemestane for chemoprevention in postmenopausal women carriers of BRCA1/2 genetic predisposition. Women who are postmenopausal unaffected carriers of BRCA1/2 mutations will be selected by participating institutions and randomly assigned to receive either oral exemestane or oral placebo every day for 3 years in order to reduce the incidence of breast cancer. Genetic counseling and the detection of predisposing BRCA1/2 mutations are mandatory before accrual into the study. Signed informed consents for the performing of BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic analysis and for enrollment into the study are required. Eligible women will be followed thereafter in order to evaluate the efficacy of exemestane in reducing the incidental rate of breast cancer in unaffected postmenopausal carriers of BRCA1/2 mutations.

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