The BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes play a critical role maintaining the genetic stability of cells, and produce proteins responsible for repairing damaged DNA. 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.
"Women benefit from receiving high-quality information about breast cancer prior to their first visit with a surgeon", senior study author Dr.
Science carried out at The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) underpinned the development of PARP inhibitors such as olaparib for women with BRCA-mutant breast and ovarian cancer.
While it put women at an increased risk of developing breast cancer, the faulty gene did not mean they were less likely to survive.
The patients, 12 percent of whom were found to have faulty genes, were followed up for an average of just over eight years.
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Of the 266,000 women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer and the 40,000 who will die of the disease this year, about 5 percent to 10 percent carry a mutation.
The findings come amid a slew of research in recent months into the gene, which could make BRCA-related cancer more manageable, and treatment or preventative measures less invasive.
The majority of women (89%) underwent chemotherapy.
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.
After the women's medical records were tracked for up to ten years, researchers found that 651 of 678 total deaths were due to breast cancer.
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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. These findings remained similar regardless of whether mutations were in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene.
Fiona MacNeill, of the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, who was not involved in the research, said: "This study can reassure young women with breast cancer, particularly those with triple negative cancer or who are BRCA carriers, 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".
"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".
Women who have had breast cancer are also more likely to be diagnosed with the disease a second time if they carry these genetic faults, which is why some choose to have risk-reducing surgery such as removing the breasts.
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