FDA Approves First Drug for BRCA-Mutated Breast Cancer

Kenny Tucker
January 12, 2018

"Our study is the largest of its kind, and our findings suggest that younger women with breast cancer who have a BRCA mutation have similar survival to women who do not carry the mutation after receiving treatment", said lead researcher Diana Eccles.

The researchers studied 2,733 women under 40 who had been recently diagnosed with breast cancer.

These results don't mean the BRCA mutations aren't important; they still increase the risk of getting breast and ovarian cancers in the first place, for example. The faulty gene increases the risk of a woman developing breast and ovarian cancers, with 45% to 90% of women with the mutation developing breast cancer during their lifetime, compared to roughly 12.5% of women in the general population.

Women who have BRCA mutations do as well after treatment for breast cancer as other patients, British researchers reported Thursday.

Breast cancer survival was the same in young women with and without faulty BRCA genes, according to a new study.

The actress Angelina Jolie underwent a preventative double mastectomy in 2013, aged 37, after learning she was at high risk of developing breast cancer due to a defective BRCA gene. This was true at 2, 5 and 10 years following diagnosis. The drug was linked with tumor shrinkage in 60% of the patients with germline BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations taking the drug, compared to 29% in the chemo group.

"However, our findings suggest that this surgery does not have to be immediately undertaken along with the other treatment".

The gene mutation has widely been dubbed the ‘Angelina Jolie gene
The gene mutation has widely been dubbed the ‘Angelina Jolie gene

Most of the women (89 percent) received chemotherapy, 49 percent had breast-conserving surgery, 50 percent had a mastectomy, and less than 1 percent had no breast surgery, according to the report.

Women who carry a risky cancer gene have the same survival chances as other women with breast tumours, researchers have found.

Twelve per cent of the women had a BRCA mutation.

"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", she added.

"Our data provides some reassurance that patients who are diagnosed with a BRCA gene fault as part of their cancer treatment journey can complete and recover from their breast cancer treatment, which is important", she said.

The study ended in 2008, and in the last 10 years several new treatments have been released to the market.

This is the first time a PARP inhibitor has been approved to treat breast cancer and the first time any drug has been approved to treat certain patients with metastatic breast cancer associated with the same genetic mutation. On Friday, the Food and Drug Administration announced that the agency was expanding its approval for a drug called Lynparza to treat breast cancer in people who were BRCA carriers.

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