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Evidence Does Not Support Strong Link Between BRCA1/2 Mutations and Skin Cancer

Women with BRCA1/2 mutations have a well-documented, elevated risk of breast and ovarian cancer. However, the evidence is not as clear about their risk for developing other types of cancers including skin cancer. A recent review article published in the British Journal of Dermatology examined the current literature on the risk of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers in women who carried the BRCA1/2 mutation.

The authors found that there was conflicting information about elevated risk for melanoma in women with the BRCA 2 mutation; five studies showed a possible association with the mutation and an elevated risk, while four studies showed no association or increased risk. This leads study authors to conclude that there is insufficient evidence to warrant increased skin cancer surveillance, especially in the absence of other standard risk factors.

The authors caution that the evidence supporting an association between BRCA1/2 mutations and melanoma is not straightforward. There is some suggestive evidence of melanoma risk observed in suspected BRCA2 mutation carriers in breast and ovarian cancer families. However, after reviewing the studies they found substantial study design shortcomings limiting the certainty of these conclusions. The review found no studies with a statistically significant association between BRCA1 mutations and melanoma.

By: Wendy Meltzer, MPH


Adapted from the original article.

[image by Will Montague]

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