BRCA Status Doesn't Affect Survival in Young-Onset Breast Cancer

The actress Angelina Jolie had a pre-emptive mastectomy after finding out that she had a BRCA gene mutation

The actress Angelina Jolie had a pre-emptive mastectomy after finding out that she had a BRCA gene mutation Christopher Polk  Getty Images

About 12 percent of the patients had a BRCA mutation, yet again confirming the association between this "faulty gene" and breast cancer. A total of 12 per cent of the women in the study carried the BRCA mutation.

In addition, a subgroup analysis of 558 women with triple-negative breast cancer suggested that women with a BRCA mutation may initially have a survival advantage during the few years after diagnosis.

Located within Penn Medicine's Abramson Cancer Center, The Basser Research Center for BRCA focuses exclusively on BRCA1 and BRCA2.

BRCA mutations interfere with DNA fix, making carriers predisposed to develop cancer.

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.

While only about five percent of breast cancers are diagnosed in women younger than 40, a high proportion of deaths fall in this age category.

The BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes play a critical role maintaining the genetic stability of cells, and produce proteins responsible for repairing damaged DNA. "Understanding prognosis in young patients is important because patients with BRCA mutations are at increased risk of developing specific conditions, such as secondary cancers, including ovarian cancer, contralateral breast cancer, and de novo breast cancer in the same breast".

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On Thursday, research led by the University of Southampton concluded that BRCA-mutated breast cancer is no more unsafe or aggressive than any other form of the disease.

But the study by the University of Southampton, of women between the ages of 18 and 40 years, found after treatment, there was no significant difference is survival rate between women who have a faulty gene and women who do not.

The women's medical records were tracked for up to 10 years.

Patients were then followed up for an average of just over 8 years, which revealed similar survival across women in the study, regardless of their BRCA status, the researchers report in the Lancet Oncology.

The PARP inhibitor is now available to patients with deleterious or suspected germline BRCA-mutated (bBRCAm), human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-negative metastatic breast cancer (MBC) who have been previously treated with chemotherapy in the neoadjuvant, adjuvant or metastatic setting.

The BRCA test consists of a simple blood sample, with risks and benefits to be considered.

Professor Peter Fasching, from Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany, added: "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". It means that they can take time to discuss whether radical breast surgery is the right choice for them as part of a longer-term risk-reducing strategy.

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