BRCA1-associated breast and ovarian cancer risks can be modified by common genetic variants. To identify further cancer risk-modifying loci, we performed a multi-stage GWAS of 11,705 BRCA1 carriers (of whom 5,920 were diagnosed with breast and 1,839 were diagnosed with ovarian cancer), with a further replication in an additional sample of 2,646 BRCA1 carriers. We identified a novel breast cancer risk modifier locus at 1q32 for BRCA1 carriers (rs2290854, P = 2.7×10−8, HR = 1.14, 95% CI: 1.09–1.20). In addition, we identified two novel ovarian cancer risk modifier loci: 17q21.31 (rs17631303, P = 1.4×10−8, HR = 1.27, 95% CI: 1.17–1.38) and 4q32.3 (rs4691139, P = 3.4×10−8, HR = 1.20, 95% CI: 1.17–1.38). The 4q32.3 locus was not associated with ovarian cancer risk in the general population or BRCA2 carriers, suggesting a BRCA1-specific association. The 17q21.31 locus was also associated with ovarian cancer risk in 8,211 BRCA2 carriers (P = 2×10−4). These loci may lead to an improved understanding of the etiology of breast and ovarian tumors in BRCA1 carriers. Based on the joint distribution of the known BRCA1 breast cancer risk-modifying loci, we estimated that the breast cancer lifetime risks for the 5% of BRCA1 carriers at lowest risk are 28%–50% compared to 81%–100% for the 5% at highest risk. Similarly, based on the known ovarian cancer risk-modifying loci, the 5% of BRCA1 carriers at lowest risk have an estimated lifetime risk of developing ovarian cancer of 28% or lower, whereas the 5% at highest risk will have a risk of 63% or higher. Such differences in risk may have important implications for risk prediction and clinical management for BRCA1 carriers.
BRCA1 mutation carriers have increased and variable risks of breast and ovarian cancer. To identify modifiers of breast and ovarian cancer risk in this population, a multi-stage GWAS of 14,351 BRCA1 mutation carriers was performed. Loci 1q32 and TCF7L2 at 10q25.3 were associated with breast cancer risk, and two loci at 4q32.2 and 17q21.31 were associated with ovarian cancer risk. The 4q32.3 ovarian cancer locus was not associated with ovarian cancer risk in the general population or in BRCA2 carriers and is the first indication of a BRCA1-specific risk locus for either breast or ovarian cancer. Furthermore, modeling the influence of these modifiers on cumulative risk of breast and ovarian cancer in BRCA1 mutation carriers for the first time showed that a wide range of individual absolute risks of each cancer can be estimated. These differences suggest that genetic risk modifiers may be incorporated into the clinical management of BRCA1 mutation carriers.