Faulty gene has no impact on breast cancer survival say scientists

FDA Approves First Drug To Treat Inherited Breast Cancer

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.

Interestingly, prompt bilateral mastectomy did not confer a survival advantage among the BRCA carriers.

FRIDAY, Jan. 12, 2018 (HealthDay News) - Lynparza (olaparib) has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat metastatic breast cancer caused by a BRCA gene mutation.

Until now most women with the gene mutation have undergone radical surgery to remove both breasts as soon as the cancer is spotted, as doctors believed the cancer was very aggressive.

Olaparib - which is also indicated for ovarian cancer - is the first poly ADP-ribose polymerase (PARP) inhibitor approved to treat breast cancer and is the first agent to be approved specifically for the treatment of breast cancer with BRCA mutations.

"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", she added. Half had breast-conserving surgery, and half had a mastectomy.

Of 2,733 patients in the POSH analysis, 338 (12%) carried either a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation.

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.

The median follow-up was 8.2 years. This was true at 2, 5 and 10 years following diagnosis.

The researchers, who looked at nearly 3,000 women, also found outcomes were the same whatever kind of treatment women had - including mastectomies.

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This was not affected by the women's body mass index or ethnicity.

Immediate bilateral mastectomy also was not associated with improved survival.

Along with the expanded approval of Lynparza, the FDA said it has "also expanded the approval of the BRACAnalysis CDx, an approved companion diagnostic to Lynparza, to include the detection of BRCA mutations in blood samples from patients with breast cancer". At that time, BRCA testing and risk-reducing surgery were not routine for early breast cancer.

The authors note the findings do not apply to older women.

What is the BRCA gene?

"This study confirms these findings".

The researchers noted previous evidence on whether carrying these types of mutation affects a woman's cancer prognosis has been mixed.

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States.

According to the American Cancer Society, women with a mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes have a seven-in-10 chance of getting breast cancer by the age of 80.

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. In addition, because triple-negative breast cancer was not well understood when the study was designed, it was therefore not powered for this as a primary outcome.

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