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New study reveals for first time how BRCA1 mutations cause breast cancer
Date:12/9/2007

Cancers Caused by BRCA1 Mutations are Especially Lethal & Difficult to Treat

Basal-like breast cancer tumors, whether caused by BRCA1 mutations or of the non-hereditary type, are among the most aggressive tumors they grow fast and spread quickly, making them more likely than other types of cancer to be fatal. These tumors are more likely to be resistant to standard breast cancer treatments, such as Tamoxifen or Herceptin, making them especially difficult to treat. As a result, many young BRCA1 carriers opt to have their breasts prophylactically removed instead of waiting for cancer to appear.

Breast cancers caused by BRCA1 mutations tend to affect women much earlier often before menopause and sometimes in their 20s and 30s and between 60 and 80 percent of women who carry a BRCA1 mutation will develop breast cancer at some point during their lives. BRCA1 mutation carriers are most common among African-American women and women of Ashkenazi Jewish descent. Inherited BRCA1 (and BRCA2) mutations also predispose women to ovarian cancer, a disease that frequently escape early diagnosis and which has a fatal outcome in advanced stages.

International Collaborations & Research Support

Additional Columbia researchers involved in the study include Hanina Hibshoosh, M.D., associate professor of clinical pathology and Vundavalli Murty, M.D., associate professor of pathology, and others.

Identifying these rearrangements would not have been possible without the support of the shared resources of the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center and our collaboration with Drs. Borg, Saal, Hibshoosh and Murty, said Dr. Parsons.


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Contact: Elizabeth Streich
eas2125@columbia.edu
212-305-6535
Columbia University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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