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Similar Survival

A new study has found that young breast cancer patients with mutations in their BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes have similar survival chances as patients without those variants, BBC News reports.

A University of Southampton-led team of researchers conducted a prospective cohort study of 2,733 women under the age of 40 who were diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. The researchers determined the BRCA status of the women from blood samples and then gathered clinicopathological and outcomes data on the cohort for a median follow up of 8.2 years. Twelve percent of the patients in the cohort had BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations.

As they report in the Lancet Oncology this week, Southampton's Diana Eccles and her colleagues found that young patients with BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations had similar survivals as patients who weren't mutation carriers. At five years, BRCA-positive patients had an overall survival rate of 83.8 percent, while non-carrier patients had an overall survival of 85 percent.

"Women diagnosed with early breast cancer who carry a BRCA mutation are often offered double mastectomies soon after their diagnosis or chemotherapy treatment," Eccles tells the BBC. "However, our findings suggest that this surgery does not have to be immediately undertaken along with the other treatment."

She adds, though, that surgery may still be beneficial to BRCA carriers to reduce their longer-term risk.