No Link Between Breast Cancer Risk and Colorectal Cancer

Genetic predisposition for one does not increase chances of other

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TUESDAY, Jan. 6, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- People with a genetic predisposition to breast or ovarian cancer do not carry the same level of risk for colorectal cancer, say University of Michigan researchers.

Women with mutations in BRCA genes or a family history of breast cancer have a high chance of contracting breast or ovarian cancer.

But a study of blood samples from 1,422 patients with colorectal cancer found the group had the same number of BRCA mutations as did a control group of 1,566 people without colorectal cancer.

"We found no strong common genetic basis between colorectal and breast cancer," Dr. Stephen B. Gruber, a cancer geneticist with the University of Michigan's Comprehensive Cancer Center, says in a prepared statement. "They are different diseases with different genetic factors."

Current national clinical care guidelines recommend informing BRCA mutation carriers of an increased risk of colorectal cancer. Gruber says physicians should instead advise people with these mutations to follow the colorectal cancer screening procedures established for the general public.

A second part of the study found no link between family history of breast cancer and a person's chance of suffering colorectal cancer. The study will appear in the Jan. 7 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about colorectal cancer.

SOURCES: University of Michigan Health Systems, new release, Jan. 6, 2004

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