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The breast cancer gene with no effect on mortality

The BRCA gene mutation, which prompted American actress Angelina Jolie to have her breasts removed, does not lead to higher mortality after a cancer diagnosis, according to a study released Friday.

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According to the American Cancer Society, women with the mutation (BRCA-1 or BRCA-2) have seven in ten chances of developing breast cancer before their 80s.

According to the researchers who publish this study in The Lancet Oncology, the operation is therefore useful as a preventive measure before the diagnosis, but not immediately afterwards.

Women with this mutation may even have a “benefit” to better survive in the case of “triple negative ” breast cancer , a particularly difficult form to treat the disease.

” Women who are diagnosed with early breast cancer and carry a BRCA mutation are often offered double mastectomies shortly after diagnosis, ” said Diana Eccles (University of Southampton, UK), one of the authors.

” Our findings suggest that this surgery does not have to be done immediately, in addition to other treatments, ” she added.

According to the American Cancer Society, women with this mutation (BRCA-1 or BRCA-2) have seven in ten chances of developing breast cancer before their 80s. They may also be sick younger than others.

In 2013, Hollywood star Angelina Jolie revealed to have undergone this operation in a preventive way, before any diagnosis of cancer.

The study looked at 2,733 Britons between 18 and 40 years old who had been diagnosed with breast cancer between 2000 and 2008, including 12% carriers of the mutation.

The follow-up of their file on an average of eight years showed that of the 678 deceased, breast cancer was involved in 651 cases (96%).

But ” there was no difference in overall survival whether it was two, five or ten years after diagnosis for women with or without BRCA mutation ,” the authors said in a statement.

A difference only appears in a subgroup, women with triple negative breast cancer. They survive slightly better, two years after diagnosis, if they have the mutation.

Those who choose to delay a new operation for one or two years to better recover from the initial treatment should be reassured: this will probably not affect their chances of survival in the long term , say the doctors.

Making the same choice as Angelina Jolie, however, makes sense. ” The risk reduction exercise will still probably benefit BRCA mutation carriers to prevent another breast or ovarian cancer from developing in the longer term, ” they explained.

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