AstraZeneca Receives FDA Approval for Breast Cancer Treatment

The actress Angelina Jolie had a pre-emptive mastectomy after finding out that she had a BRCA gene mutation

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.

"Breast cancer is the most frequent cancer in women (12% lifetime risk) and hormonal contraception the most frequent medical exposure in women (40% of all women of reproductive age in Denmark)".

The BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations are known to put women at an increased risk of developing cancer.

Clovis' PARP inhibitor Rubraca (rucaparib) was approved in the U.S.in late 2016 for advanced ovarian cancer patients who have received at least two prior lines of chemo and whose tumors harbor the BRCA mutation.

It suggests that although women diagnosed with breast cancer at a young age tend to have a poorer outlook, those who have BRCA gene faults aren't less likely to survive.

The findings might come as a welcomed breath of fresh air for many young women newly diagnosed with breast cancer, particularly those who are BRCA carriers.

But it is unlikely to affect the many women, like Miss Jolie, who choose to have surgery as a precaution when they find out they carry the mutated gene, in order to slash their chance of being diagnosed with cancer in the first place. After 10 years, those rates were 73.4 percent and 70.1 percent, respectively. The drug was linked with tumor shrinkage in 60% of the patients with germline BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations taking the drug, compared to 29% in the chemo group.

A subgroup analysis of 558 patients with triple-negative breast cancer, however, did show a significant survival advantage during the first few years after diagnosis in BRCA mutation carriers.

"Our findings suggest that this surgery does not have to be immediately undertaken along with the other treatment".

Eccles and her colleagues noted that the findings might not apply to older breast cancer patients with a BRCA mutation.

This means that breast cancer patients can wait and see how they feel about things and how their health is before they decide whether to have more surgery - for instance, to remove the healthy breast to lower any risk that breast cancer might return in that one.

"In particular, being able to give some women with triple negative breast cancer the choice to delay a risk-reducing mastectomy would allow them to take back control of a major part of their treatment and offer them more time to recover from their initial therapy".

Twelve per cent of the women had a BRCA mutation. About 12 percent of the patients had a BRCA mutation, yet again confirming the association between this "faulty gene" and breast cancer.

"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 findings were consistent regardless of whether mutations were in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, the researchers report.

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