Houston, TX Women with a deleterious gene mutation are diagnosed with breast cancer almost eight years earlier than relatives of the previous generation who also had the disease and/or ovarian cancer, according to new research from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
The findings, published online in Cancer and updated since first presented at the 2009 Breast Cancer Symposium, could have an impact on how women at highest risk for the disease are counseled and even screened in the future, explained Jennifer Litton, M.D., assistant professor in MD Anderson's Department of Breast Medical Oncology.
"In our practice, we've noticed that women with a known deleterious BRCA gene mutation are being diagnosed earlier with the disease than their moms or aunts," said Litton, the study's first author. "With this study, we looked at women who had been both treated and had their BRCA testing at MD Anderson to determine if what we were seeing anecdotally was consistent scientifically, a phenomenon known as anticipation."
It's estimated that five to 10 percent of all breast cancers are associated with either the BRCA1 or 2 mutation, both of which are associated with an increased risk for breast and ovarian cancers. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), women with BRCA1 or 2 have a 60 percent lifetime risk of developing breast cancer, compared to a 12 percent risk for women in the general population.
Given their greater risk, women with known BRCA mutations and/or whose mothers and/or aunts from either side of the family have the mutation are screened beginning at age 25. In 2007, as a complement to mammography, ACS guidelines added Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) in the surveillance of these women at highest risk, as MRI is thought to catch smaller tumors even earlier. Consideration of prophylactic mastectomies is also a component of their surveillance, said Litton.
"Currently, BRCA positive women are c
|Contact: Laura Sussman|
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center