Faulty gene doesn't affect 'breast cancer survival'

Henrietta Strickland
January 12, 2018

For women with a mutation whose breast tumors were also triple-negative-which refers to the lack of three specific characteristics seen in a breast tumor-their odds of long-term survival was the same, too.

But it is unlikely to affect the many women, like Miss Jolie, who choose to have surgery as a precaution when they find out they carry the mutated gene, in order to slash their chance of being diagnosed with cancer in the first place. This was true at 2, 5 and 10 years following diagnosis. All were tested for BRCA mutations.

About a third of those with the BRCA mutation had a double mastectomy to remove both breasts after being diagnosed with cancer.

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. Most had chemotherapy, half has what's called breast-conserving surgery instead of a complete mastectomy, the other half had a full mastectomy and a very few did not have any surgery.

The research team, led by the University of Southampton, used data from 2,733 young women in 127 United Kingdom hospitals who had been diagnosed with primary breast cancer before the age of 40.

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.

Doctors had found that the star had mutations in BRCA genes which increase a woman's risk of breast cancer by four-to-eightfold. The mutations put women at greater risk of breast and ovarian cancers, with 45 to 90 per cent of women with the mutation developing breast cancer during their lifetime. After 10 years, faulty gene carrier survival was 73.4% compared with 70.1% for non-carriers.

BRCA1 - Led Angelina Jolie to have a double mastectomy because of her risk of breast cancer.

BRCA mutations can cause cancer because the DNA self-repair mechanisms can malfunction.

Miss Jolie, 42, famously chose to have her breasts, ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to reduce her cancer risk, after her mother died of ovarian cancer aged just 56.

PALB2 - Works similarly to the BRCA genes.

However, the researchers noted the results might not translate to older women with a BRCA mutation, as they were not involved in the study and more research would be needed in this area.

"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.

Katherine Woods, from charity Breast Cancer Now said the findings "could enable many patients to make even more informed choices regarding their treatment".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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