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06-04-2010 | Oncology | Article

Survival rates for very early onset breast cancer are improving


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MedWire News: A long-term analysis of women with very early-onset breast cancer living in North-West England has shown improved survival in more recent years.

The study, carried out by Gareth Evans (St Mary’s Hospital, Manchester, UK) and colleagues, also revealed high rates of BRCA1, BRCA2 and TP53 mutations in women aged 30 years or younger with a family history of breast cancer.

To address the lack of long-term follow-up data in women diagnosed with breast cancer at very young ages, Evans and team carried out a detailed analysis of survival, contralateral breast cancer, and other tumor incidence in 288 women registered with the North Western Cancer Intelligence Service and diagnosed with breast cancer at or under 30 years of age between 1980 and 1997.

Overall 15-year survival among the patients was poor, but did improve significantly from 46% in those diagnosed between 1980 and 1989, to 58% in those diagnosed between 1990 and 1997.

The present report supplements previous data published by the researchers with genetic screening results for an additional 15 patients, bringing the total number of patients tested for BRCA1, BRCA2 and TP53 mutations to 115 women.

Of the 115 women who underwent genetic testing, 16 (14%) carried pathogenic mutations in BRCA1, nine (8%) had mutations in BRCA2 and 6 (5%) had mutations in TP53. Mutations were identified in 49% of the 53 women with familial cancer and 8% of the 62 women with non-familial cancer.

The study also assessed the performance of mutation prediction models. The researchers found that the BRCAPRO model accurately predicted the number of BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers and is useful for determining which young patients require genetic testing.

The incidence of contralateral breast cancer during 20 years of follow-up was 0.6% per year, although the incidence in mutation carriers was 2% per year.

“The data in the current analysis demonstrate the improvement in survival in breast cancer, which is seen in many countries,” conclude Evans and co-authors in the British Journal of Cancer.

In spite of this, overall survival is still poor in this group of young women, they add.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Laura Dean

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