Today, breast cancer is the most commonly occurring cancer among women. It accounts for 22% of all female cancers and the estimated annual incidence of breast cancer worldwide is about one million cases. Many risk factors have been identified but a positive family history remains among the most important ones established for breast cancer, with first-degree relatives of patients having an approximately two-fold elevated risk. It is currently estimated that approximately 20-25% of this risk is explained by known breast cancer susceptibility genes, mostly those conferring high risks, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2. However, these genes explain less than 5% of the total breast cancer incidence, even though several studies have suggested that the proportion of breast cancer that can be attributed to a genetic factor may be as high as 30%. It is thus likely that there are still breast cancer susceptibility genes to be found. It is presently not known how many such genes there still are, nor how many will fall into the class of rare high-risk (e.g. BRCAx) or of common low-risk susceptibility genes, nor if and how these factors interact with each other to cause susceptibility (a polygenic model). In this review we will address this question and discuss the different undertaken approaches used in identifying new breast cancer susceptibility genes, such as (genome-wide) linkage analysis, CGH, LOH, association studies and global gene expression analysis.

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Critical Reviews in Oncology / Hematology
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Oldenburg, R., Meijers-Heijboer, H., Cornelisse, C. J., & Devilee, P. (2007). Genetic susceptibility for breast cancer: How many more genes to be found?. Critical Reviews in Oncology / Hematology (Vol. 63, pp. 125–149). doi:10.1016/j.critrevonc.2006.12.004