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Study Ranks Prevalence of BRCA1 in Racial Ethnic Groups

Ashkenazi Jews top list followed by Hispanics in Northern California survey

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 26 (HealthDay News) -- A survey of BRCA1 mutation carriers among ethnic populations found the highest prevalence among Ashkenazi Jews followed by Hispanics and the lowest prevalence in Asian Americans, researchers report in the Dec. 26 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Esther M. John, Ph.D., of the Northern California Cancer Center in Fremont, Calif., and colleagues recruited breast cancer patients younger than 65 into a family registry using a two-stage sampling design with oversampling of patients having characteristics suggesting their cancers might be inherited. Race and ethnicity were self-identified and participants provided a biospecimen sample for BRCA1 mutation testing.

The prevalence among Ashkenazi Jews was 8.3 percent. In patients without Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry, estimated mutation prevalence was highest in Hispanics (3.5 percent), followed by non-Hispanic whites (2.2 percent), African Americans (1.3 percent) and Asian Americans (0.5 percent). The most common mutation seen in Hispanics was 185delAG.

"The higher carrier prevalence in Hispanics may reflect the presence of unrecognized Jewish ancestry in this population," the authors conclude. An accompanying editorial states, "Further studies are need to estimate the prevalence of BRCA2 in racial/ethnic minority populations as well as to study the penetrance of both BRCA1 and BRCA2 in diverse populations."

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