BRCA mutations don't hurt breast cancer survival

Alicia Farmer
January 12, 2018

The researchers studied 2,733 women under 40 who had been recently diagnosed with breast cancer.

A study of 1.8 million women demonstrated an increased risk of breast cancer with hormonal contraceptive use - including combined oral contraception (COC), progestin-only pills (POPs), and intrauterine systems - with a dose-response relationship. The faulty gene increases the risk of a woman developing breast and ovarian cancers, with 45% to 90% of women with the mutation developing breast cancer during their lifetime, compared to roughly 12.5% of women in the general population.

It suggests that although women diagnosed with breast cancer at a young age tend to have a poorer outlook, those who have BRCA gene faults aren't less likely to survive.

Eccles, MD, University of Southampton and University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, United Kingdom, and colleagues looked at survival following treatment for the initial breast cancer diagnosed only.

Young breast cancer patients with faulty BRCA genes have the same survival chances as those without, a study has found.

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.

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

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The women, who were recruited between 2000 and 2008, were monitored for an average of 8.2 years to discover more about their treatment, whether their cancer returned, or if they died.

"Decisions about timing of additional surgery aimed at reducing future second primary-cancer risks should take into account patient prognosis associated with the first malignancy and patient preferences", the authors write.

A study has found, however, that it has no effect on survival rates among young women. Of these, 12% carried one, including 201 women with a mutation in the BRCA1 gene, and 137 with a mutation in the BRCA2 gene. The expanded approval makes olaparib the first PARP inhibitor indicated for breast cancer, in addition to being the first drug approved to treat patients with a BRCA mutation.

Twelve per cent of the women had a BRCA mutation.

In the trial, Lynparza - developed with Merck & Co Inc - significantly prolonged progression-free survival compared with chemotherapy, and reduced the risk of disease progression or death by 42%.

Fasching added that "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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