BRCA mutations occur in either the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene and are inherited.
The risk for breast cancer with hormonal contraceptive use is not a new concept - the prescribing information for oral contraceptives, for example, cautions that there is a potential for breast cancer development. Roughly 30 to 60 percent of BRCA1 or BRCA2 carriers will develop breast cancer in their lifetime, compared to an estimated 12 percent of women in the general population.
Breast cancer survival was the same in young women with and without faulty BRCA genes, according to a new study.
"In view of this, younger women with breast cancer can take time to discuss whether radical breast surgery is the right choice for them as part of a longer-term risk reducing strategy", said Fiona MacNeill, a breast surgeon at The Royal Marsden National Health System Foundation Trust in Britain, which was not involved in the study.
This UK study findings suggest mastectomies and other invasive preventive surgery may not be necessary soon after diagnosis, as has been the norm.
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About a third of those with the BRCA mutation had a double mastectomy to remove both breasts after being diagnosed with cancer, the same surgery Jolie went through.
'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'.
The authors note the findings do not apply to older women.
The study involved 127 hospitals across the United Kingdom and included 2,733 women aged 18-40 years who had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer for the first time.
The findings, published in the Lancet Oncology journal, showed women with the BRCA-mutation also had an 83.8 per cent of surviving five years and 73.4 per cent chance of surviving ten years, compared to other women who had an 85 per cent five-year survival rate and 70.1 per cent ten-year survival chance.
Fasching added that "these risks determine treatment, and knowing that BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations do not result in a different prognosis might change the therapeutic approach for these risks".
"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". 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.