J Breast Cancer.  2020 Aug;23(4):430-437. 10.4048/jbc.2020.23.e25.

Hints from a Female Patient with Breast Cancer Who Later Presented with Cowden Syndrome

  • 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Jen-Ai Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan
  • 2Department of Pathology, Jen-Ai Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan
  • 3Department of Medical Laboratory and Biotechnology, Chung Shan Medical University, Taichung, Taiwan


A 51-year-old woman presented with metachronous tumor development in bilateral breasts, thyroid, and endometrium. Additional signs and symptoms fulfilled the National Comprehensive Cancer Network criteria for Cowden syndrome. Immunohistochemistry showed loss of PTEN expression in all tumors. Single nucleotide variants, 647 germline variants (including one each in PTEN and MSH3), and 21 somatic mutations within exons were detected in all tumors after whole-exome sequencing. There were 0, 11, and 46 specific somatic mutations in bilateral breasts, thyroid, and endometrial cancers, respectively. Although PTEN mutation is key to the development of Cowden syndrome, DNA repair dysfunction might be the initial driver of mutations. Fewer mutations were required to induce initial bilateral breast carcinomas, with subsequent thyroid and endometrial carcinomas requiring more mutations for induction. When genetic screening is unavailable, breast cancer patients with clinical manifestations of Cowden syndrome must be carefully assessed for secondary malignancies, such as thyroid and endometrial carcinomas.


Hamartoma syndrome; multiple; Neoplasms; second primary; Whole-exome sequencing
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