Germline mutations in the BRCA1 tumour suppressor gene on chromosome 17q21 are responsible for approximately half of the cases of hereditary breast cancer, including the majority of familial breast/ovarian cancers. To increase our knowledge of the spectrum of BRCA1 mutations, we have extended our analysis to include patients with varied family histories of cancer of the breast, ovary, and at multiple other sites. We have analysed 23 unrelated familial cases using direct sequencing or a combination of dideoxy fingerprinting and sequencing procedures. Twenty one of these families contained three or more cases of breast or ovarian cancer and two families had one case of breast cancer diagnosed before the age of 40 and one case of ovarian cancer. The common frameshift mutation 5382insC was detected in two patients, and the 185delAG mutation was found in a family of Ashkenazi Jewish descent. The novel frameshift mutation 3450del4 (CAAG) was detected in a patient who developed breast cancer at the age of 28 and ovarian cancer at the age of 34. Three other women in this family were diagnosed with breast cancer at the ages of 26, 29, and 40. The novel framshift mutation 2953del3+C was found in a French Canadian woman who had developed two primary cancers of the breast at the age of 37 and 38 and renal cancer at the age of 38.
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