BACKGROUND: The role of somatic BRCA1/2 gene mutations in breast cancer is getting increasing attention in view of hereditary disease. The medullary phenotype and triple negative intrinsic subtypes are often, but not exclusively encountered in BRCA1 germline mutated breast cancer, whilst for BRCA2, no association to specific histological features are known. In this study, we addressed the relationship between morphological medullary phenotype and BRCA1/2 somatic mutations in breast cancer without known positive family anamnesis.
METHODS: 32 clinically sporadic breast cancers with medullary features were analyzed for somatic BRCA1/2 mutations (all coding exons) with next-generation sequencing technology. Paraffin-embedded formalin-fixed breast cancer samples from all patients were analyzed.
RESULTS: Three of 32 tumors (9%) had pathogenic (ARUP class-5) BRCA1 gene alterations. Two of these pathogenic variants exhibited deletions leading to frameshift mutations (p.Glu23fs, p.Val1234fs), and the remaining single-nucleotid-variant resulted in premature STOP codon (p.Glu60Ter). In one patient, the same pathogenic BRCA1 mutation was detected (p.Glu23fs) in normal breast tissue. Retrospective follow-up in two patients revealed a positive family history for breast cancer and consecutive germline mutation testing confirmed presence of BRCA1 mutations. No somatic pathogenic BRCA2 mutations were detected.
CONCLUSIONS: BRCA1 mutation testing may be useful in clinically sporadic breast cancer patients with medullary features to identify potential mutation carriers independently from intrinsic molecular subtype. Formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded cancer tissue can undergo testing within a routine molecular-diagnostic setting as a clinical BRCA1/2 mutation screening strategy.