BRCA Breast Cancer Gene Doesn't Affect Patient Survival

New thinking on BRCA treatment

Breast cancer survival not affected by faulty BRCA genes

Younger women diagnosed with breast cancer who carry a faulty BRCA gene are at no more risk of dying early than those without the mutation, according to a United Kingdom study.

The risk for breast cancer with hormonal contraceptive use is not a new concept - the prescribing information for oral contraceptives, for example, cautions that there is a potential for breast cancer development. "Women diagnosed with early breast cancer who carry a BRCA mutation are often offered double mastectomies soon after their diagnosis or chemotherapy treatment, however, our findings suggest that this surgery does not have to be immediately undertaken along with the other treatment".

Women under the age of 40 with breast cancer have the same chances of survival whether or not they've been diagnosed with a BRCA gene mutation, new research suggests.

But it is unlikely to affect the many women, like Miss Jolie, who choose to have surgery as a precaution when they find out they carry the mutated gene, in order to slash their chance of being diagnosed with cancer in the first place.

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An estimated 55 to 65 percent of women with a cancer-causing BRCA1 mutation will develop breast cancer by age 70, the National Cancer Institute says.

Few studies have looked at whether these genes are linked with lower survival in young breast cancer patients, which this research aimed to address.

She added: "In view of this, younger women with breast cancer can take time to discuss whether radical breast surgery is the right choice for them as part of a longer-term risk reducing strategy". The primary outcome was overall survival for all BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations carriers compared with all non-carriers at 2, 5, and 10 years post-diagnosis.

It's good news for people with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations that raise their risk of cancer.

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"Our data provides some reassurance that patients who are diagnosed with a BRCA gene fault as part of their cancer treatment journey can complete and recover from their breast cancer treatment, which is important", she said.

For this study, researchers followed more than 2,700 women recruited from more than a hundred British hospitals for almost a decade.

In a subgroup of women with triple-negative breast cancer, those with a BRCA mutation had slightly higher survival rates for the first two years after diagnosis.

These findings were consistent regardless of whether mutations were in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, the researchers report. About 12 percent of the patients had a BRCA mutation, yet again confirming the association between this "faulty gene" and breast cancer. On Friday, the Food and Drug Administration announced that the agency was expanding its approval for a drug called Lynparza to treat breast cancer in people who were BRCA carriers.

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