Breast cancer gene does not boost risk of death

Many women uninformed about breast cancer surgery options

"No other study has followed a group of patients from diagnosis over a long period of time to discover if carrying a high-risk inherited BRCA gene alters the likelihood of being cured of breast cancer", said lead researcher Professor Diana Eccles from the University of Southampton.

"Breast cancer is the most frequent cancer in women (12% lifetime risk) and hormonal contraception the most frequent medical exposure in women (40% of all women of reproductive age in Denmark)".

Doctors had found that the star had mutations in BRCA genes which increase a woman's risk of breast cancer by four-to-eightfold.

The study, published in The Lancet Oncology, found 12% of 2,733 women aged 18 to 40 treated for breast cancer at 127 hospitals across the United Kingdom between 2000 and 2008 had a BRCA mutation. Approximately 20% to 25% of patients with hereditary breast cancer and 5% to 10% of patients with any type of breast cancer have a BRCA mutation, according to the release.

"This important topic needs more prospective research as preventive surgical measures might have an effect on what might be a very long life after a diagnosis of breast cancer at a young age", wrote Peter Fasching from the Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany.

About 97 percent of women survived for more than two years after their diagnosis, while more than 83 percent and more than 70 percent survived for five and 10 years post-diagnosis, respectively.

"Our findings suggest that this surgery does not have to be immediately undertaken along with the other treatment".

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

The BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes usually produce molecules inside cells that help to fix DNA. "Decisions about timing of additional surgery to reduce future cancer risks should take into account patient prognosis after their first cancer, and their personal preferences".

Today, the FDA approved olaparib tablets (Lynparza) for the treatment of patients with metastatic breast cancer whose tumors have a germline genetic mutation, according to a press release.

All the women were tested for faulty BRCA genes.

The study involved 2,733 British women aged 18-40 who had been diagnosed with breast cancer between 2000 and 2008. At that time, BRCA testing and risk-reducing surgery were not routine for early breast cancer.

Eccles and her colleagues noted that the findings might not apply to older breast cancer patients with a BRCA mutation. "These risks determine treatment, and knowing that BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations do not result in a different prognosis might change the therapeutic approach for these risks". 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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