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13 January 2018, 06:00 | Myron Mathis
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BRCA mutations can cause cancer because the DNA self-repair mechanisms can malfunction. "For the portion of the 155,000 women in the U.S. living with metastatic breast cancer who have an inherited BRCA mutation, today's news is encouraging".
A study of nearly 3,000 British women found that preventative surgery - like a double mastectomy - straight after being diagnosed with this type of breast cancer did not improve survival over 10 years. About 12 percent of the patients had a BRCA mutation, yet again confirming the association between this "faulty gene" and breast cancer.
The study involved 127 hospitals across the United Kingdom and included 2,733 women aged 18-40 years who had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer for the first time.
Having a faulty BRCA gene - either BRCA1 or BRCA2 - is known to increase a woman's risk of 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".
Martin Ledwick, Cancer Research UK's Head Information Nurse, said: "Although BRCA faults increase the risk of young women developing cancer, their outlook once diagnosed is no worse than that for young women with breast cancer who don't carry the BRCA gene faults".
The approval expands the use of olaparib to include the treatment of patients with BRCA-mutated HER2-negative metastatic breast cancer.
Young women with the BRCA gene mutation that prompted actress Angelina Jolie's pre-emptive and much-publicised double mastectomy are not more likely to die after a breast cancer diagnosis, scientists said Friday.
At the same time, 72 percent of the women who used the decision aid recognized that they could wait a few weeks to make an informed treatment choice without affecting their survival odds, compared with just 54 percent for the other women.
Angelina Jolie made headlines when she underwent preventative surgery after learning she had an up to 87% chance of developing breast cancer.
"However, our findings suggest that this surgery does not have to be immediately undertaken along with the other treatment".
Susan Domchek, MD, executive director of the Basser Center for BRCA at the University of Pennsylvania's Abramson Cancer Center and a national leader on the OlympiAD trials that led to FDA approval of olaparib for the treatment of breast cancer, is available today for phone and satellite uplink interviews related to the news.
This surgery did not appear to improve their chances of survival at the 10-year mark.
She added: "In view of this, younger women with breast cancer 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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