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Impact of BRCA on early breast cancer studied

Friday January 12th, 2018

Young women who are treated for early breast cancer do not face any immediate increased risk if they carry BRCA mutations, British researchers say today.

The findings suggest that these patients may not need immediate risk-reducing surgery if they carry the mutation, according to the researchers.

The Southampton researchers say their findings mean the women have time to discuss the benefits of the radical surgery that can be undertaken to prevent BRCA mutations causing future problems.

The research, reported in The Lancet Oncology, involved some 2,733 women under the age of 41 diagnosed with breast cancer for the first time in the first nine years of this century. About half these women underwent a mastectomy.

Some 12% of the women carried a BRCA mutation. The researchers found no difference in survival between women with the BRCA mutations and those without at periods of two years, five years and ten years.

A further analysis of 558 women with triple negative breast cancer found that women with the BRCA mutation had better survival than others in the early years after treatment.

Researcher Professor Diana Eccles, of Southampton University, UK, said: “Women diagnosed with early breast cancer who carry a BRCA mutation are often offered double mastectomies soon after their diagnosis or chemotherapy treatment, however, our findings suggest that this surgery does not have to be immediately undertaken along with the other treatment.

“In the longer term, risk-reducing surgery should be discussed as an option for BRCA1 mutation carriers in particular, to minimise their future risk of developing a new breast or ovarian cancer. 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.”

Writing in the journal Professor Peter Fasching, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany, adds: “This important topic needs more prospective research as preventive surgical measures might have an effect on what might be a very long life after a diagnosis of breast cancer at a young age.”

Ellen R Copson et al. Germline BRCA mutation and outcome in young-onset breast cancer (POSH): a prospective cohort study Lancet Oncology 12 January 2018; doi: 10.1016/S1470-2045(17)30891-4 [abstract]

Tags: Cancer | Genetics | UK News | Women's Health & Gynaecology

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