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BRCA mutation does not lessen breast cancer survival rate

Young women diagnosed with breast cancer and who carry an inherited BRCA gene mutation have the same chance of survival after treatment as women without the mutation, researchers say

BRCA1_and_cancer_cell-SPL
A molecular model of BRCA1 protein (left) and a cancer cell (right). The protein helps
to repair DNA strands, but mutations that prevent it from doing so lead to the affected
cells multiplying uncontrollably and forming a tumour. Picture: Science Photo Library

Young women diagnosed with breast cancer and who carry an inherited gene mutation have the same chance of survival after treatment as women without the mutation, researchers say.

BRCA mutations occur in either the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene and are inherited. They put women at a greater risk of breast and ovarian cancers.

Researchers led by the University of Southampton recruited 2,733 young women with breast cancer between 2000 and 2008.

Their medical records were tracked for an average of 8.2 years to check their diagnosis, treatment, whether their cancer came back or if they died.

During this time there were 651 deaths from breast cancer, 18 from other cancers, and nine from other causes.

Delaying additional surgery

BRCA mutations were found in 12% of women in the study, published in the Lancet Oncology journal. There was no difference in overall survival two, five or ten years after diagnosis for women with and without a BRCA mutation.

After two years survival was 97% for BRCA carriers and 96.6% for non-carriers. After ten years it was 73.4% compared with 70.1%.

The authors suggest that women with difficult to treat triple-negative breast cancer and a BRCA mutation who choose to delay additional surgery for one or two years to recover from initial treatment should be reassured that this is unlikely to affect long-term survival.

However, risk-reducing surgery will still likely be beneficial for BRCA mutation carriers to prevent another new breast or ovarian cancer from developing in the longer term.


Copson E et al (2018) Germline BRCA mutation and outcome in young-onset breast cancer (POSH): a prospective cohort study. The Lancet Oncology. doi.org/10.1016/S1470-2045(17)30891-4

 

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