BRCA gene does not alter breast cancer survival rates

14 Enero, 2018, 02:00 | Author: Earnest Bishop
  • Peathegee Inc via Getty Images

The good news for young women who carry the infamous BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene is that their chances of survival after conventional breast cancer treatment are the same as those who don't have the mutation.

USA regulators have approved the first drug aimed at women with advanced breast cancer caused by an inherited flawed gene. This fault also comes with a higher risk of ovarian and prostate cancers and, of course, breast cancer.

Scientists at the University of Southampton, UK, recently reported that women who carry a mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes are not more likely to die after a breast cancer diagnosis than non-carriers.

All patients received treatment according to local protocols.

The majority of women (89%) underwent chemotherapy. Jolie surgically removed and reconstructed her breasts as a preventive measure after learning her BRCA status.

The researchers examined detailed clinical follow-up information, including date and site of disease recurrence, at 6 months and 12 months, and then annually. All were tested for BRCA mutations.

The BRCA mutation may be most famous for its association with Angelina Jolie, who announced she carried the BRCA1 mutation in 2013 in a New York Times opinion piece.

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It says about 20 to 25 percent of patients with hereditary breast cancers and 5 to 10 percent of patients with any type of breast cancer have a BRCA mutation.

The median follow-up was 8.2 years.

After the women's medical records were tracked for up to ten years, researchers found that 651 of 678 total deaths were due to breast cancer. Mutations carriers had a better overall survival than non-carriers at 2 years (95% vs 91%; P =.047). This surgery did not appear to improve their chances of survival at the 10-year mark.

This was not affected by the women's body mass index or ethnicity. What's more, carrying these mutations might, in fact, boost the odds of beating cancer if the diagnosis is triple-negative breast cancer.

Asked for her perspective, Virginia Kaklamani, MD, DSc, of the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, who was not involved in the study, said: "This is the largest prospective study looking at outcomes in BRCA-related breast cancer. This study confirms these findings". "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". In August, it was granted approval as a maintenance treatment for adult patients experiencing recurrent epithelial ovarian fallopian tube, or primary peritoneal cancer, who are in response (either complete or partial) to platinum-based chemotherapy. 12% of 2,733 women with ages between 18 and 40 had a BRCA mutation.

"The trial measured the length of time the tumors did not have significant growth after treatment [progression-free survival]", the agency explained.

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