Breast cancer caused by genetic mutation gets first approved treatment

Having a mutated BRCA gene- as famously carried by Angelina Jolie- dramatically increases the chance a woman will develop breast cancer in her lifetime from 12 per cent to 90 per cent

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Survival appears to be similar for patients with young-onset breast cancer who carry a BRCA mutation and noncarriers, according to a study published online January 11 in The Lancet Oncology.

Martin Ledwick, Cancer Research UK's head information nurse, said: 'Although BRCA faults increase the risk of young women developing cancer, their outlook once diagnosed is no worse than that for young women with breast cancer who don't carry the BRCA gene faults'. The Food and Drug Administration today approved AstraZeneca PLC's Lynparza, the first drug aimed at women with advanced breast cancer caused by an inherited flawed gene.

"This class of drugs has been used to treat advanced, BRCA-mutated ovarian cancer and has now shown efficacy in treating certain types of BRCA-mutated breast cancer", said Dr. Richard Pazdur, director of the FDA's Oncology Center of Excellence.

For the new study, Eccles and a team recruited 2,733 British women aged 18-40 who had been diagnosed with breast cancer between 2000 and 2008.

Young women with breast cancer who carry faulty BRCA genes are no less likely to survive than those without them, researchers have found.

TESARO's PARP inhibitor ZEJULA (niraparib) was OK'd in the March 2017 for the maintenance treatment of recurrent epithelial ovarian (and fallopian tube and primary peritoneal cancers) in patients who are in complete or partial response to platinum-based chemo regardless of their BRCA status. The approval expands the use of AstraZeneca's olaparib (Lynparza) to include the treatment of patients with BRCA-mutated HER2-negative metastatic breast cancer, making it the first PARP inhibitor approved to treat breast cancer, according to the FDA.

BRCA2 - Mutations prevent DNA from repairing itself properly, leading to breast cancer.

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'This is excellent news for women with this uncommon but important genetic form of breast cancer, many of whom took part in the clinical trials'. The trial found that the length of time during which the tumors did not grow significantly, a measure called progression-free survival, was a median of 7 months for patients treated with Lynparza compared to 4.2 months for patients receiving chemotherapy only.Lynparza didn't improve the overall length of survival, however.

Until now most women with the gene mutation have undergone radical surgery to remove both breasts as soon as the cancer is spotted, as doctors believed the cancer was very aggressive.

'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.

About a third of those with the BRCA mutation had a double mastectomy.

This was not affected by the women's body mass index or ethnicity.

Eccles, MD, University of Southampton and University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, United Kingdom, and colleagues looked at survival following treatment for the initial breast cancer diagnosed only.

An expert said women should take time to decide if surgery was for them.

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