Breast cancer gene does not boost risk of death

In 2013 Hollywood star Angelina Jolie announced she had had both breasts surgically removed as a preventative measure after tests revealed she carried the mutation

In 2013 Hollywood star Angelina Jolie announced she had had both breasts surgically removed as a preventative measure after tests revealed she carried the mutation

"While there is now no cure for metastatic breast cancer, today's approval offers a new, targeted option that may help to delay disease progression for these patients". Roughly 30 to 60 percent of BRCA1 or BRCA2 carriers will develop breast cancer in their lifetime, compared to an estimated 12 percent of women in the general population.

Located within Penn Medicine's Abramson Cancer Center, The Basser Research Center for BRCA focuses exclusively on BRCA1 and BRCA2. The test, which was previously cleared for ovarian cancer patients, identifies which breast cancer patients have BRCA mutations.

Having a faulty BRCA gene - either BRCA1 or BRCA2 - is known to increase a woman's risk of breast cancer. 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.

The study, published in The Lancet Oncology, found 12% of 2,733 women aged 18 to 40 treated for breast cancer at 127 hospitals across the United Kingdom between 2000 and 2008 had a BRCA mutation. Dave Fredrickson, Executive Vice President, Head of the Oncology Business Unit, AstraZeneca, recognizes the importance of the news: "This is significant for breast cancer patients, as the identification of BRCA status, in addition to hormone receptor and HER2 status, becomes a potentially critical step in the management of their disease".

Younger women with breast cancer who carry the faulty BRCA gene have been found to have the same survival rates as those who do not carry the mutation, according to a new study.

"It is the first time any drug has been approved to treat certain patients with metastatic breast cancer who have a "BRCA" gene mutation", the agency said in a statement released to the media.

The findings come amid a slew of research in recent months into the gene, which could make BRCA-related cancer more manageable, and treatment or preventative measures less invasive.

During the course of the study, out of the 2,733 women, there were 678 deaths, including 651 deaths from breast cancer, 18 from other cancers, and nine from other causes.

Women who have had breast cancer are also more likely to be diagnosed with the disease a second time if they carry these genetic faults, which is why some choose to have risk-reducing surgery such as removing the breasts.

This surgery did not appear to improve their chances of survival at the 10-year mark.

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.

"So long as women are treated appropriately and are safe there is no crashing hurry ... they need to be given the space to get as much information as they can and not feel like they need to do it all at once", Fran Boyle, Professor of Medical Oncology at the University of Sydney told the SMH.

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