Do Oral Contraceptives Actually Increase Breast Cancer Risk?
Do Oral Contraceptives Actually Increase Breast Cancer Risk?
The actress Angelina Jolie had a pre-emptive mastectomy after finding out that she had a BRCA gene mutation Christopher Polk Getty Images
12 January, 2018, 21:05
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.
Professor Peter Fasching, from Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany, added: "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 breastcancer at a young age".
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 faulty gene increases the risk of a woman developing breast and ovarian cancers, with 45% to 90% of women with the mutation developing breast cancer during their lifetime, compared to roughly 12.5% of women in the general population.
And in women under the age of 40 diagnosed with breast cancer, a higher proportion have these faulty genes compared with older patients.
The women's medical records were tracked for up to 10 years.
"Our findings suggest that this surgery does not have to be immediately undertaken along with the other treatment".
During this time, 651 of the women died from breast cancer, and those with the BRCA mutation were equally likely to have survived at the two-, five- and 10-year mark as those without the genetic mutation.
For this study, researchers followed more than 2,700 women recruited from more than a hundred British hospitals for almost a decade. Most importantly, they uncovered that there was no difference in overall survival two, five, or ten years after diagnosis for women with and without a BRCA mutation.
'This study can reassure young women with breast cancer ... that breast conservation with radiotherapy is a safe option in the first decade after diagnosis and double mastectomy is not essential or mandatory at initial treatment.
About a third of those with the BRCA mutation had a double mastectomy to remove both breasts after being diagnosed with cancer, the same surgery Jolie went through.
"Together, BRCA1 and _BRCA_2 mutations account for about 20 to 25 percent of hereditary breast cancers and about 5 to 10 percent of all breast cancers", the National Cancer Institute says. "These risks determine treatment, and knowing that BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations do not result in a different prognosis might change the therapeutic approach for these risks". It is also approved in the USA for advanced ovarian cancer patients who have received at least three prior lines of chemo and maintenance treatment of ovarian cancer in patients who are in complete or partial response to platinum-based chemo, both BRCA-positive. On Friday, the Food and Drug Administration announced that the agency was expanding its approval for a drug called Lynparza to treat breast cancer in people who were BRCA carriers.
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