Breast cancer survival rates 'not affected by faulty BRCA gene mutation'

Credit Wikimedia Commons

Credit Wikimedia Commons

"We know there are limited treatment options for patients with metastatic breast cancer", said ue Friedman, Executive Director and founder of the nonprofit organization, Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered (FORCE).

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. On Friday, Jan. 12, 2018, the Food and Drug Administration approved AstraZeneca PLC's Lynparza, the first drug aimed at women with advanced breast cancer caused by an inherited flawed gene.

Located within Penn Medicine's Abramson Cancer Center, The Basser Research Center for BRCA focuses exclusively on BRCA1 and BRCA2. It is also approved in the USA for advanced ovarian cancer patients who have received at least three prior lines of chemo and maintenance treatment of ovarian cancer in patients who are in complete or partial response to platinum-based chemo, both BRCA-positive.

Women under the age of 40 with breast cancer have the same chances of survival whether or not they've been diagnosed with a BRCA gene mutation, new research suggests.

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The study involved 2,733 British women aged 18-40 who had been diagnosed with breast cancer between 2000 and 2008.

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.

The BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes usually produce molecules inside cells that help to fix DNA. After analyzing their DNA for the mutations, they checked in around the two-, five- and 10-year anniversary of each woman's diagnosis to see if she were still alive. Besides breast cancer, these mutations have been linked to an increased risk of ovarian and prostate cancers.

The researchers say that these findings could give women "more confidence and control" when making decisions about their treatment.

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The agency said its approval was based on a randomized clinical trial of more than 300 advanced breast cancer patients with BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 mutations.

The team tracked the women's medical records for an average period of just over eight years and found that 651 of 678 total deaths were due to breast cancer. This surgery did not appear to improve their chances of survival at the 10-year mark, according to the findings published in The Lancet Oncology. The FDA also expanded the approval of Myriad's BRCAnalysis CDx, a companion diagnostic to olaparib, to include the detection of BRCA mutations in blood samples from patients with breast cancer.

Dr. Susan M. Domchek, Executive Director of the Basser Center for BRCA at the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania and a national leader on the OlympiAD trials, said: "Patients diagnosed with BRCA-related metastatic breast cancer are often younger than other breast cancer patients, and their disease is often much more aggressive and hard to treat". These findings remained similar regardless of whether mutations were in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene. 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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