FDA Approves First Drug for Tumors Tied to Breast Cancer Genes


The study included 2733 women from 127 hospitals in the United Kingdom who had been diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 40 or below. "This is significant for breast cancer patients, as the identification of BRCA status, in addition to hormone receptor and HER2 status, becomes a potentially critical step in the management of their disease".

Sally Simmonds explains went to meet one woman who's chose to have a double mastectomy following support form Cancer Research UK.

The findings might come as a welcomed breath of fresh air for many young women newly diagnosed with breast cancer, particularly those who are BRCA carriers.

Lynparza belongs to a class of drugs called PARP inhibitors that block an enzyme involved in repairing damaged DNA. Between 45 percent and 90 percent of women with a BRCA mutation develop breast cancer, compared with about 12.5 percent of women in the general population.

The gene mutation has widely been dubbed the "Angelina Jolie gene" after the actress discovered she had an 87 per cent chance of developing cancer and underwent a preventative double mastectomy as a result.

"No other study has followed a group of patients from diagnosis over a long period of time to discover if carrying a high-risk inherited BRCA gene alters the likelihood of being cured of breast cancer", said lead researcher Professor Diana Eccles from the University of Southampton.

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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.

This study shows that radiotherapy is the safest option in the first 10 years after a diagnosis was given, and this might save women a little time to think, considering the fact that a double mastectomy is not essential at the initial treatment. "Decisions about timing of additional surgery to reduce future cancer risks should take into account patient prognosis after their first cancer, and their personal preferences".

For this study, researchers followed more than 2,700 women recruited from more than a hundred British hospitals for almost a decade.

The most common adverse reactions (20% or more) in the OlympiAD trial of patients who received olaparib were nausea (58%), anemia (40%), fatigue (including asthenia) (37%), vomiting (30%), neutropenia (27%), respiratory tract infection (27%), leukopenia (25%), diarrhea (21%) and headache (20%).

This is of particular note as the majority of breast cancer cases (81%) occur in women over the age of 50.

During the course of the study, out of the 2,733 women, there were 678 deaths, including 651 deaths from breast cancer, 18 from other cancers, and nine from other causes. It's unknown whether treatment increases survival.