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Research focus:  

Interdisziplinäres Zentrum "Familiärer Brust- und Eierstockkrebs" (Deutsche Krebshilfe)
Am Hubland, 97074 Würzburg

Scientific members:


   Scientific assistants:

Research foci (and basic equipment-based research projects):
Breast and ovarian cancer are leading causes of cancer-related death in women. Epidemiological studies of breast cancer have supported a model in which the majority of cases are nongenetic with a small percentage (5-10%) being likely due to the presence of dominantly inherited susceptibility alleles. Two such genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2, have been identified and found to be mutated in a large number of families with multiple cases of early-onset breast and/or ovarian cancer. Both genes are highly penetrant and confer a significant risk for breast and ovarian cancer as well as a more moderate risk for other cancers. The possibility of DNA testing in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes now makes it feasible to identify a proportion of "at-risk" individuals as candidates for surveillance programs with the goal of decreasing morbidity and mortality through early detection and treatment.

In 1996, the "Deutsche Krebshilfe, Bonn" supported the formation of a multicenter study "Familial Breast and Ovarian Cancer". Today, a total of 12 centers in Germany participate in this study whose goal is to further the understanding of cancerogenesis in hereditary breast and ovarian cancer and to establish a national infrastructure for the management and treatment of women with a familial predisposition to breast and/or ovarian cancer.

In the "Familial Breast Cancer Center Würzburg" approximately 300 families with a high incidence of breast and/or ovarian cancer are currently in the program. Our interdisciplinary team brings together genetic counsellors, oncopsychologists, molecular geneticists and gynecologists with specialty in clinical oncology.

Presently, more than 200 patients have been analyzed in one or both of the breast cancer genes. Carriers of predisposing BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations may have a lifetime risk of developing breast cancer as high as 80% and of ovarian cancer as high as 50%. Once a germline mutation has been identified in an affected person, our center offers presymptomatic DNA diagnostic to those family members who are at risk to have inherited the germline BRCa1 or BRCA2 mutation.