Somatic and Germline Genomic Alterations in Very Young Women with Breast Cancer

Adrienne G. Waks, Dewey Kim, Esha Jain, Craig Snow, Gregory J. Kirkner, Shoshana M. Rosenberg, Coyin Oh, Philip D. Poorvu, Kathryn J. Ruddy, Rulla M. Tamimi, Jeffrey Peppercorn, Lidia Schapira, Virginia F. Borges, Steven E. Come, Elena F. Brachtel, Ellen Warner, Laura C. Collins, Ann H. Partridge, Nikhil Wagle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Young age at breast cancer diagnosis correlates with unfavorable clinicopathologic features and worse outcomes compared with older women. Understanding biological differences between breast tumors in young versus older women may lead to better therapeutic approaches for younger patients. Experimental Design: We identified 100 patients ≤35 years old at nonmetastatic breast cancer diagnosis who participated in the prospective Young Women's Breast Cancer Study cohort. Tumors were assigned a surrogate intrinsic subtype based on receptor status and grade. Whole-exome sequencing of tumor and germline samples was performed. Genomic alterations were compared with older women (≥45 years old) in The Cancer Genome Atlas, according to intrinsic subtype. Results: Ninety-three tumors from 92 patients were successfully sequenced. Median age was 32.5 years; 52.7% of tumors were hormone receptor-positive/HER2-negative, 28.0% HER2-positive, and 16.1% triple-negative. Comparison of young to older women (median age 61 years) with luminal A tumors (N = 28 young women) revealed three significant differences: PIK3CA alterations were more common in older patients, whereas GATA3 and ARID1A alterations were more common in young patients. No significant genomic differences were found comparing age groups in other intrinsic subtypes. Twenty-two patients (23.9%) in the Young Women's Study cohort carried a pathogenic germline variant, most commonly (13 patients, 14.1%) in BRCA1/2. Conclusions: Somatic alterations in three genes (PIK3CA, GATA3, and ARID1A) occur at different frequencies in young versus older women with luminal A breast cancer. Additional investigation of these genes and associated pathways could delineate biological susceptibilities and improve treatment options for young patients with breast cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2339-2348
Number of pages10
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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