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Mutant Gene That Ups Risk for Ovarian Cancer May Aid Survival
Date:10/11/2011

By Jenifer Goodwin
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Oct. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Women who have the BRCA2 gene mutation that raises the risk for both breast and ovarian cancer are more likely to survive ovarian cancer than other women, a new study indicates.

Those other women include both women with the BRCA1 mutation, also linked to a heightened risk of breast and ovarian cancer, and women without either mutation.

Researchers said the explanation for the better survival rates with BRCA2 is that women with that mutation respond better to chemotherapy.

"BRCA2 has a better survival compared to BRCA1 and wild type [typical] patients," said study author Da Yang, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. "When we further looked at the chemotherapy response, we find BRCA2 has a more beneficial response compared to the BRCA1 and wild type."

The study is published in the Oct. 12 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Both the BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations substantially raise the risk of developing both breast and ovarian cancer, leading many women to opt for preventive mastectomies and removal of their ovaries and fallopian tubes.

Over the course of a lifetime, women with BRCA1 have a 39 percent to 54 percent risk of developing ovarian cancer, while women with BRCA2 mutations have an 11 percent to 23 percent risk, according to background information in the study.

It's also been observed that women who have the mutations and who develop ovarian cancer tend to live longer than those without the mutations, Yang said. The new research not only confirms that, but gets at the differences between the two types of BRCA mutations.

Using data on 316 women with ovarian cancer who took part in the Cancer Genome Atlas project, researchers found that the 29 women with the BRCA2 mutation had a 61 percent chance of surviving five years, compared t
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