Breaking Medical News and In Depth Medical Stories

Search News:
Breast cancer mutations may not help predict outcomes in Jewish women
Breast cancer mutations may not help predict outcomes in Jewish women

July 11, 2007 (Insidermedicine) Jewish women who have inherited the BRCA1 and BRCA2 breast cancer gene mutations have survival rates on par with those without the mutations, according to a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine. 

Breast cancer is the leading cause of all deaths from all causes among Israeli women. Close to 4,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer annually in this population, and in 28% of cases, the diagnosis is made before the age of 50. A large proportion of these are hereditary breast cancer cases.  

Mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are very common in Israeli Jewish women. BRCA1-associated breast cancers often occur in younger women, and the prognosis is believed to be poor. However, researchers are unclear how these mutations influence breast cancer survival. 

In the present study, researchers retrieved breast cancer biopsies from more than 1,700 Jewish women and analyzed them for the presence of BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations. Among the women whose breast cancer had been diagnosed before the age of 50, the prevalence of mutations was 18%. For those diagnosed at 50 years or older, the prevalence was only 7%. The survival rate at 10 years was similar for the gene mutation carriers and non-carriers. 

Based on these findings, the value of widespread genetic screening to predict survival rates is questionable. However, given the high risk of bilateral and recurrent tumour in carriers of BRCA mutations, their detection still constitutes an important tool when making treatment decisions in women with breast cancer.  

Reporting for Insidermedicine, I’m Maria Radina