ICARE Newsletter Winter 2018

Refining Risks and Outcomes of Breast Cancer in BRCA Carriers

In an effort to further study breast cancer risks among BRCA carriers, a recently published study compared breast cancer risks among those with and without a close family member (first-degree relative) with breast cancer.1 Findings showed that risk for breast cancer by age 80 was 60.8% in BRCA1 carriers and 63.1% among BRCA2 carriers, with similar risk levels among those with and without breast cancer in a close relative. These findings suggest that breast cancer risks remain high among BRCA carriers, regardless of whether a woman has a close relative with breast cancer, thus cancer risk management should be the same for these women.

In considering outcomes of breast cancer, prior studies have not yet provided evidence to draw a definitive conclusion about whether BRCA carrier patients with breast cancer do better, worse, or no different, compared to patients with ‘sporadic’ (or non-hereditary) breast cancer. A new study was recently published to answer this question.2 In this study, breast cancer patients diagnosed at or below age 40 (within 12 months of their diagnosis) were followed over time to compare the outcome between those with and without a BRCA mutation. Findings from this study showed that BRCA carriers had similar overall survival to non-carriers. Furthermore, the study showed that those with a BRCA mutation and triple-negative breast cancer may have a better outcome (as defined by survival) in the first few years after diagnosis.

1Metcalfe et al. Clin Genet. 2017 Dec 5. PMID:29206279.
2Copson et al. Lancet Oncol. 2018 Jan 11. PMID 29337092.