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Other highlights in the October 16 issue of JNCI

Journal of the National Cancer Institute

Women May Have an Exaggerated Perception of Their Breast Cancer Risk

Many women who undergo prophylactic bilateral mastectomy have an exaggerated perception of their breast cancer risk before surgery, suggests a study in the October 16 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Prophylactic bilateral mastectomy is a preventive option for women who are at high risk of developing breast cancer. A woman's perception of her risk can influence her decision to undergo this surgery. Kelly A. Metcalfe and Steven A. Narod, M.D., of the Centre for Research in Women's Health, Sunnybrook and Women's College Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, compared the perceptions of breast cancer risk among 75 women who had undergone prophylactic bilateral mastectomy with objective estimates of their breast cancer risk.

They found that all women, except those who knew they carried a mutation in one of the two breast cancer susceptibility genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2, overestimated their breast cancer risk. The authors conclude that most women who undergo prophylactic bilateral mastectomy do not have an accurate perception of their breast cancer risk before they have the surgery. The authors suggest that formal genetic counseling and testing could provide more accurate risk estimates to guide women who are considering their options for preventing breast cancer.

Contact: Janet Wong, University of Toronto, 416-978-5949, jf.wong@utoronto.ca

Antiperspirant Use Not Associated With Risk of Breast Cancer

A study of more than 1500 women offers no evidence to support the hypothesis that antiperspirant use increases the risk of developing breast cancer. The results appear in the October 16 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

There have been no published reports suggesting a biologic mechanism by which antiperspirants could cause breast cancer, and there are no epidemiologic studies to support such an association. However, a rumor of a causative link has been circulated widely on the Internet. Although several cancer organizations have posted statements clarifying that there is no reason to suspect a link, the rumor continues to circulate periodically.

Dana K. Mirick, M.S., Scott Davis, Ph.D., and David B. Thomas, M.D., Dr.P.H., of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, conducted a case-control study to investigate any possible relationship between products applied to the underarm and subsequent breast cancer risk. The researchers interviewed 813 women with breast cancer and 793 women without breast cancer. There was no increased risk of breast cancer among women who used antiperspirant or deodorant, who used such products and shaved their underarms with a razor, or who applied such products within 1 hour of shaving.

"The absence of any observed associations [between antiperspirant use and breast cancer risk] may help alleviate the concern of many that use of underarm antiperspirants or deodorants could alter their risk for breast cancer," the authors conclude.

Contact: Kristen Woodward, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, 206-667-5095; kwoodwar@fhcrc.org

Protein Patterns May Aid in Prostate Cancer Detection

A new study suggests that serum protein expression patterns may help distinguish benign prostate conditions from prostate cancer in men with normal or elevated levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA), which is considered a marker for prostate cancer.

Researchers with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration/National Cancer Institute Clinical Proteomics Program in collaboration with scientists at Correlogic Systems Inc. used an artificial-intelligence type bioinformatics tool to analyze serum samples from men with prostate cancer and men with benign prostate conditions. The researchers identified a pattern that best discriminated between the conditions.

FDA's Emanuel Petricoin, Ph.D., NCI's Lance A. Liotta, M.D., Ph.D., and their colleagues then used this proteomic pattern to determine how well it predicted disease in men known to have either prostate cancer or benign prostate disease. In the October 16 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, the researchers report that the pattern correctly identified 36 of the 38 (95%) cases of prostate cancer. Among men with normal PSA levels, the tool correctly identified 70 of 75 (93%) asymptomatic men who had benign prostate conditions. Among men whose PSA levels were in the indeterminate range, the tool correctly classified 97 of 137 (71%) men as having benign conditions. The test also correctly classified 10 of 16 (63%) men with high PSA levels and a negative biopsy as having benign conditions.

The researchers note that the proteomic pattern test cannot replace biopsy as a cancer detection tool. However, they suggest that "serum proteomic pattern analysis may be used in the future to aid clinicians so that fewer men are subjected to unnecessary biopsies ... ."

Contact: U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 301-827-6242

Mutational Hotspot Poorly Repaired in K-ras-Associated Human Cancers

Mutations in codons 12, 13, and 61 of H-, N- and K-ras genes occur in human cancers; however, mutations at codon 12 of K-ras are the most common mutations found in these genes. A new study in the October 16 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute may be able to explain why this particular codon of K-ras is a mutational hotspot in human cancers. Zhaohui Feng, M.D., Ph.D., and Moon-shong Tang, Ph.D., of the New York University School of Medicine, and their colleagues examined tobacco smoke carcinogen-induced DNA damage in normal human bronchial epithelial and fibroblast cells. They found that codons 12 and 14 of K-ras were hotspots for carcinogen-DNA adduct formation, with little or no formation at codons 13 and 61, and that the carcinogen-DNA adducts formed at codon 14 of K-ras were repaired twice as quickly as those formed at codon 12. The authors conclude that the human cancer mutational hotspot at codon 12 of K-ras is linked to preferential DNA damage and poor repair.

Gene Alterations Predict Survival from Renal Cancer

Somatic alterations in the von Hippel-Lindau disease (VHL) tumor suppressor gene are common in sporadic clear-cell renal carcinoma. In a study appearing in the October 16 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Masahiro Yao, M.D., Ph.D., of the Yokohama City University School of Medicine in Japan, and colleagues found that VHL alterations were strongly associated with better cancer-free survival and cancer-specific survival for patients with stage I-III clear-cell renal carcinoma treated by radical nephrectomy but that VHL alterations were not associated with cancer-specific survival for patients with stage IV tumors treated with palliative or adjunctive nephrectomy. The authors conclude that the VHL status may provide useful prognostic information for patients with stage I-III disease treated with radical nephrectomy.

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Note: The Journal of the National Cancer Institute is published by Oxford University Press and is not affiliated with the National Cancer Institute. Attribution to the Journal of the National Cancer Institute is requested in all news coverage.

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