Having a mutation in the BAP1 tumor suppressor gene is known to increase a person’s chances of developing malignant mesothelioma and several other cancers.
But researchers at Wake Forest University School of Medicine and the Fox Chase Cancer Center say there may be an upside in terms of mesothelioma prognosis for people with this genetic anomaly.
What is BAP1 Mutation?
The BRCA1 associated protein 1 (BAP1) gene is responsible for producing a protein that helps suppress the growth of tumors.
When the BAP1 gene is mutated, and that damage is passed from parent to child, the child can inherit the parent’s higher susceptibility to mesothelioma.
People with the BAP1 cancer syndrome who are exposed to asbestos are much more likely to receive a mesothelioma diagnosis than other asbestos-exposed individuals.
BAP1 and Mesothelioma Prognosis
In an effort to understand the effect BAP1 mutation may have on mesothelioma prognosis, researchers examined the mutation status of 150 mesothelioma patients with a family history of cancer, including mesothelioma.
Also included in the study were a control group of 50 asbestos-exposed individuals with a family history of cancers other than mesothelioma and 153 asbestos-exposed people with no family background of cancer.
Mesothelioma Survival in People with BAP1 Syndrome
The researchers found that 9 of the 150 mesothelioma patients had familial BAP1 mutations. These patients tended to develop mesothelioma at an earlier age than people without the mutation.
They were also more likely to have peritoneal mesothelioma, a less common but more survivable form of the disease.
The combination of younger age at diagnosis and prevalence of peritoneal over pleural mesothelioma resulted in better long-term mesothelioma survival for the BAP1 mutation group.
Because BAP1 mutation carriers are also at risk for several other kinds of cancer, the researchers recommend that they undergo further screening and monitoring to catch and treat new cancers as early as possible.
The article appears in the journal Cancer Research.
Ohar, JA, et al, “Germline BAP1 mutational landscape of asbestos-exposed malignant mesothelioma patients with family history of cancer”, December 30, 2015, Cancer Research, Epub ahead of print