Since the original localization1 and
cloning2 of BRCA1,
a key question has been: What proportion of the overall burden of breast cancer
is attributable to mutations in this susceptibility gene? Previous studies
have focused on 4 categories of individuals: members of high-risk families
(those with apparent single-gene, autosomal dominant transmission of susceptibility
to breast and/or ovarian cancer); genetically distinctive populations such
as persons of Ashkenazi extraction; women with early-onset breast cancer;
and women seen in high-risk breast cancer clinics (from moderate- and high-risk
families). Findings from select published reports in these groups and highlights
of findings of 2 articles in this issue of JAMA are summarized in Table 1.3- 18
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