The XRCC2 gene is a key mediator in the homologous recombination repair of DNA double strand breaks. We hypothesised that inherited variants in the XRCC2 gene might also affect susceptibility to, and survival from, breast cancer.
We genotyped 12 XRCC2 tagging SNPs in 1,131 breast cancer cases and 1,148 controls from the Sheffield Breast Cancer Study (SBCS), and examined their associations with breast cancer risk and survival by estimating odds ratios (ORs) and hazard ratios (HRs), and their corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CIs). Positive findings were further investigated in 860 cases and 869 controls from the Utah Breast Cancer Study (UBCS) and jointly analysed together with available published data for breast cancer risk. The survival findings were further confirmed in studies (8,074 cases) from the Breast Cancer Association Consortium (BCAC).
The most significant association with breast cancer risk in the SBCS dataset was the XRCC2 rs3218408 SNP (recessive model p=2.3×10−4, MAF=0.23). This SNP yielded an ORrec (95% CI) of 1.64 (1.25–2.16) in a two-site analysis of SBCS and UBCS, and a meta-ORrec (95% CI) of 1.33 (1.12–1.57) when all published data were included. This SNP may mark a rare risk haplotype carried by 2 in 1000 of the control population. Furthermore, the XRCC2 coding R188H SNP (rs3218536, MAF=0.08) was significantly associated with poor survival, with an increased per-allele HR (95% CI) of 1.58 (1.01–2.49) in a multivariate analysis. This effect was still evident in a pooled meta-analysis of 8,781 breast cancer patients from the BCAC [HR (95% CI) of 1.19 (1.05–1.36), p=0.01].
Our findings suggest that XRCC2 SNPs may influence breast cancer risk and survival.