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With the increasing use of multigene panel tests, pathogenic and likely pathogenic (P/LP) variants are identified more frequently in the moderate-penetrance breast cancer genes ATM and CHEK2. Lifetime breast cancer risk among women with P/LP variants in these genes generally exceeds 20%, meeting the threshold at which high-risk breast cancer screening through breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is recommended.


Among a registry-based sample of 56 ATM and 69 CHEK2 carriers, the authors sought to determine the percentage of relatives in whom a P/LP variant would impact breast cancer surveillance. Lifetime breast cancer risks for unaffected, female first-degree and second-degree relatives were estimated using the Breast and Ovarian Analysis of Disease Incidence and Carrier Estimation Algorithm (BOADICEA).


Among first-degree relatives of ATM and CHEK2 carriers, only 22.6% and 14.9%, respectively, were found to have lifetime breast cancer risks of ≥20% based on family cancer history alone; however, when including the proband's P/LP variant in the model, these percentages increased significantly to 56.6% and 55.3%, respectively (P < .0001 and P < .0001, respectively). Similar increases in lifetime breast cancer risks were found among second-degree relatives.


The results of the current study suggest that the majority of female first-degree and second-degree relatives of ATM and CHEK2 carriers do not qualify for breast MRI based on family cancer history alone. Therefore, testing for these genes, as well as awareness of positive moderate-penetrance breast cancer gene results in the family, may impact MRI eligibility. These findings highlight the potential usefulness of and need for breast cancer risk models that incorporate moderate-penetrance gene positivity to inform screening recommendations among at-risk family members.