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Inherited and acquired alterations in development of breast cancer

Authors Rizzolo P, Silvestri V, Falchetti M, Ottini L

Published 14 November 2011 Volume 2011:4 Pages 145—158


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Piera Rizzolo, Valentina Silvestri, Mario Falchetti, Laura Ottini
Department of Molecular Medicine, "La Sapienza" University of Rome, Rome, Italy

Abstract: Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women, accounting for about 30% of all cancers. In contrast, breast cancer is a rare disease in men, accounting for less than 1% of all cancers. Up to 10% of all breast cancers are hereditary forms, caused by inherited germ-line mutations in "high-penetrance," "moderate-penetrance," and "low-penetrance" breast cancer susceptibility genes. The remaining 90% of breast cancers are due to acquired somatic genetic and epigenetic alterations. A heterogeneous set of somatic alterations, including mutations and gene amplification, are reported to be involved in the etiology of breast cancer. Promoter hypermethylation of genes involved in DNA repair and hormone-mediated cell signaling, as well as altered expression of micro RNAs predicted to regulate key breast cancer genes, play an equally important role as genetic factors in development of breast cancer. Elucidation of the inherited and acquired genetic and epigenetic alterations involved in breast cancer may not only clarify molecular pathways involved in the development and progression of breast cancer itself, but may also have an important clinical and therapeutic impact on improving the management of patients with the disease.

Keywords: breast cancer, inherited susceptibility, acquired alterations, epigenetics

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