BRCA mutations don't hurt breast cancer survival

Many women uninformed about breast cancer surgery options

New thinking on BRCA treatment

Ellen R. Copson, Ph.D., from the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom, and colleagues conducted a prospective cohort study involving female patients recruited from 127 hospitals in the United Kingdom who were aged 40 years or younger at first diagnosis of invasive breast cancer.

Previous studies or meta-analyses comparing outcomes in women with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations and those with sporadic breast cancer have reported inconsistent effects of these mutations on patient outcomes.

BRCA mutations are among dozens of other genetic mutations that raise the risk of breast or ovarian cancer.

When those results were published last June, Mark Robson, an oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center who led the multisite trial, described the treatment as "an early chapter in a woman's journey" dealing with breast cancer - one that can delay the start of chemotherapy and help preserve her quality of life.

The findings might come as a welcomed breath of fresh air for many young women newly diagnosed with breast cancer, particularly those who are BRCA carriers. "While there is now no cure for metastatic breast cancer, today's approval offers a new, targeted option that may help to delay disease progression for these patients". The approval expands the use of AstraZeneca's olaparib (Lynparza) to include the treatment of patients with BRCA-mutated HER2-negative metastatic breast cancer, making it the first PARP inhibitor approved to treat breast cancer, according to the FDA. The hope is that by blocking the fix of cancer cells, the cells will die and slow or stop tumor growth, the FDA said in a news release Friday.

"The study found that there was no difference in overall survival two, five or ten years after diagnosis for women with and without a BRCA mutation", a press statement said.

PARIS-Young women with the BRCA gene mutation that prompted actress Angelina Jolie's pre-emptive and much-publicised double mastectomy are not more likely to die after a breast cancer diagnosis, scientists said Friday.

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

Twelve percent of patients had either a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation.

'In the longer term, risk-reducing surgery should be discussed as an option for BRCA1 mutation carriers in particular, to minimise their future risk of developing a new breast or ovarian cancer.

'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'.

The researchers found that 12 percent of patients had a pathogenic BRCA mutation. And in women under the age of 40 diagnosed with breast cancer, a higher proportion have these faulty genes compared with older patients.

Experts across the world have hailed the move as a "breakthrough", showing that treatment tailored to a patient's genetics can be used to target cancer's weaknesses.

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