PURPOSE: Germline genetic testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2 variants has been a part of clinical practice for >2 decades. However, no studies have compared the cancer risks associated with missense pathogenic variants (PVs) with those associated with protein truncating (PTC) variants.
METHODS: We collected 582 informative pedigrees segregating 1 of 28 missense PVs in BRCA1 and 153 pedigrees segregating 1 of 12 missense PVs in BRCA2. We analyzed 324 pedigrees with PTC variants in BRCA1 and 214 pedigrees with PTC variants in BRCA2. Cancer risks were estimated using modified segregation analysis.
RESULTS: Estimated breast cancer risks were markedly lower for women aged >50 years carrying BRCA1 missense PVs than for the women carrying BRCA1 PTC variants (hazard ratio [HR] = 3.9 [2.4-6.2] for PVs vs 12.8 [5.7-28.7] for PTC variants; P = .01), particularly for missense PVs in the BRCA1 C-terminal domain (HR = 2.8 [1.4-5.6]; P = .005). In case of BRCA2, for women aged >50 years, the HR was 3.9 (2.0-7.2) for those heterozygous for missense PVs compared with 7.0 (3.3-14.7) for those harboring PTC variants. BRCA1 p.[Cys64Arg] and BRCA2 p.[Trp2626Cys] were associated with particularly low risks of breast cancer compared with other PVs.
CONCLUSION: These results have important implications for the counseling of at-risk women who harbor missense PVs in the BRCA1/2 genes.