Women who have BRCA breast cancer genetic mutations are just as likely to survive as other women who get breast cancer, according to a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Women with BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are more likely to get breast cancer. It was also widely believed that those with hereditary breast cancer from BRCA1 mutations had worse outcomes. This new study, tracked two groups of women with breast cancer in Israel, one with the inherited BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations, and the other without. The researchers found no significant difference in death rates between the two groups. Between 5 and 10 percent of all breast cancers are hereditary and are more likely to occur with women from certain ethnic backgrounds like people of Ashkenazi (central or eastern European) Jewish heritage [one reason why the study was done in Israel].
Using the Israeli National Cancer Registry, the researchers were able to compare two large groups of BCRA carriers and non-carriers with breast cancer. They tested the DNA from stored tumor specimens from patients treated in Israel between 1987- 1998, and then reviewed the medical records from women whose specimens were collected.
The mutation was found in about 10% of the women who were of Ashkenazi Jewish heritage. The ten year survival rates between women who had the mutation and those who did not were similar. This news should prove reassuring for women who carry the BRCA mutations and worry about breast cancer survival.
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