BACKGROUND: In Asia, breast cancer is characterised by an early age of onset: In Malaysia, approximately 50% of cases occur in women under the age of 50 years. A proportion of these cases may be attributable, at least in part, to genetic components, but to date, the contribution of genetic components to breast cancer in many of Malaysia's ethnic groups has not been well-characterised.
METHODOLOGY: Given that hereditary breast carcinoma is primarily due to germline mutations in one of two breast cancer susceptibility genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2, we have characterised the spectrum of BRCA mutations in a cohort of 37 individuals with early-onset disease (
The cost of genetic testing and the limited knowledge about the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes in different ethnic groups has limited its availability in medium- and low-resource countries, including Malaysia. In addition, the applicability of many risk-assessment tools, such as the Manchester Scoring System and BOADICEA (Breast and Ovarian Analysis of Disease Incidence and Carrier Estimation Algorithm) which were developed based on mutation rates observed primarily in Caucasian populations using data from multiplex families, and in populations where the rate of breast cancer is higher, has not been widely tested in Asia or in Asians living elsewhere. Here, we report the results of genetic testing for mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes in a series of families with breast cancer in the multi-ethnic population (Malay, Chinese and Indian) of Malaysia.