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Update on chemoprevention in BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers

M. Stumacher a1 and S. M. Domchek a1c1
a1 Department of Medicine, Abramson Cancer Center, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA.

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stumacher m   [Google Scholar] 
domchek sm   [Google Scholar] 


Chemoprevention with tamoxifen and oophorectomy are thought to be effective in decreasing the incidence of breast cancer in women at increased risk for the disease. There is mounting data supporting the idea that hormonal interventions that reduce estrogen exposure to breast epithelium, such as prophylactic oophorectomy and tamoxifen, are effective in breast cancer prevention in both BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations carriers. Several recent studies directly address the protective effect of tamoxifen and oophorectomy in BRCA mutation carriers and suggest that these endocrine manipulations decrease the risk of primary and secondary breast cancers. Ongoing studies aim to better define the effect of tamoxifen in these very high-risk women and determining whether factors, such as earlier age of use or prior prophylactic oophorectomy, impact tamoxifen's effect. Based on existing data, we recommend that women with deleterious mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2 be informed of the beneficial effect of oophorectomy on breast cancer risk and that women who choose breast cancer screening instead of prophylactic mastectomy be offered tamoxifen as a prevention option.

(Received May 2 2005)
(Accepted June 16 2005)
(First published online September 30 2005)

Key Words: BRCA1; BRCA2; Chemoprevention; Mutation carriers; Oophorectomy; Tamoxifen.

c1 Correspondence to: Susan M. Domchek, MD, Ann B. Young Assistant Professor in Cancer Research, Department of Medicine, Abramson Cancer Center, University of Pennsylvania, 14 Penn Tower, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA. E-mail:; Tel: +1 215 615 3360; Fax: +1 215 662 6060