J Genet Med.  2012 Jun;9(1):1-10. 10.5734/JGM.2012.9.1.1.

Hereditary Breast Cancer in Korea

  • 1Department of Surgery, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul National University Bundang Hospital, Gyeonggi-do, Korea. brcakorea@gmail.com


About 7% of all breast cancer (BC) cases result from a genetic predisposition, and approximately 1,000 patients develop hereditary BC (HBC) every year in Korea. BRCA1 and BRCA2 are the primary genes underlying HBC. The average cumulative risks in BRCA1 mutation carriers at 70 years of age are 65% (95% confidence interval 44-78%) for BC and 39% (18-54%) for ovarian cancer (OC). The corresponding estimates for BRCA2 are 45% (31-56%) and 11% (2.4-19%), respectively. The penetrance of BRCA mutations is not the same between patients and can depend on factors such as race and birth-cohort. The Korean Hereditary Breast Cancer (KOHBRA) study is a large prospective nationwide study that includes 39 participating centers. Between May 2007 and May 2010, the first phase of the KOHBRA study was planned and fulfilled successfully. The primary aim of phase I was to estimate the prevalence of BRCA1/2 mutations and OC among a high-risk group of patients with HBC and their families. According to data collected during phase I of the study, the prevalence and penetrance of BRCA mutations were comparable to corresponding data from Western countries. For the second phase of the KOHBRA study, we are currently investigating a Korean BRCA mutation prediction model, prognostic factors in BRCA-related BC, environmental/genetic modifiers, and implementing a genetic counseling network. The final goal of the KOHBRA study is to create clinical practice guidelines for HBC in Korea. In this article, I review the genetics of HBC, summarize the characteristics of Korean HBC, and discuss current and future HBC research in Korea.


Hereditary breast cancer; BRCA mutation; KOHBRA study
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