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Open Access Research article

ATM variants and cancer risk in breast cancer patients from Southern Finland

Johanna Tommiska1, Laila Jansen2, Outi Kilpivaara1, Hege Edvardsen23, Vessela Kristensen2, Anitta Tamminen1, Kristiina Aittomäki4, Carl Blomqvist56, Anne-Lise Børresen-Dale23 and Heli Nevanlinna1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Helsinki University Central Hospital (HUCH), Helsinki, Finland

2 Department of Genetics, Institute for Cancer Research, Rikshospitalet-Radiumhospitalet Medical Centre, Oslo, Norway

3 Medical Faculty, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway

4 Department of Clinical Genetics, HUCH, Helsinki, Finland

5 Department of Oncology, HUCH, Helsinki, Finland

6 Department of Oncology, Uppsala University Hospital, Sweden

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BMC Cancer 2006, 6:209  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-6-209

Published: 16 August 2006



Individuals heterozygous for germline ATM mutations have been reported to have an increased risk for breast cancer but the role for ATM genetic variants for breast cancer risk has remained unclear. Recently, a common ATM variant, ATMivs38 -8T>C in cis with the ATMex39 5557G>A (D1853N) variant, was suggested to associate with bilateral breast cancer among familial breast cancer patients from Northern Finland. We have here evaluated the 5557G>A and ivs38-8T>C variants in an extensive case-control association analysis. We also aimed to investigate whether there are other ATM mutations or variants contributing to breast cancer risk in our population.


Two common ATM variants, 5557G>A and ivs38-8T>C, previously suggested to associate with bilateral breast cancer, were genotyped in an extensive set of 786 familial and 884 unselected breast cancer cases as well as 708 healthy controls. We also screened the entire coding region and exon-intron boundaries of the ATM gene in 47 familial breast cancer patients and constructed haplotypes of the patients. The identified variants were also evaluated for increased breast cancer risk among additional breast cancer cases and controls.


Neither of the two common variants, 5557G>A and ivs38-8T>C, nor any haplotype containing them, was significantly associated with breast cancer risk, bilateral breast cancer or multiple primary cancers in any of the patient groups or subgoups. Three rare missense alterations and one intronic change were each found in only one patient of over 250 familial patients studied and not among controls. The fourth missense alteration studied further was found with closely similar frequencies in over 600 familial cases and controls.


Altogether, our results suggest very minor effect, if any, of ATM genetic variants on familial breast cancer in Southern Finland. Our results do not support association of the 5557G>A or ivs38-8T>C variant with increased breast cancer risk or with bilateral breast cancer.