January 27th, 2012

BRCA Mutations Influence Ovarian Cancer Outcomes


Among women with ovarian cancer, those who have a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation appear to have better overall survival than those who do not have a BRCA gene mutation. These results were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Inherited mutations in two genes—BRCA1 and BRCA2—have been found to greatly increase the lifetime risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer. Mutations in these genes can be passed down through either the mother’s or the father’s side of the family. Options to manage the increased cancer risk include regular cancer screening, chemoprevention (use of medications to reduce risk), or preventive surgery (surgery to remove the breasts and/or ovaries before cancer is diagnosed).

In addition to increasing susceptibility to cancer, BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations may affect prognosis and response to cancer treatment. In order to explore whether these gene mutations affect outcomes among women with ovarian cancer, researchers evaluated information from 26 previous studies. Information was available about 909 patients with a BRCA1 mutation, 304 patients with a BRCA2 mutation, and 2,666 patients with no BRCA mutation.

  • Five-year overall survival was 52% among women with a BRCA2 mutation, 44% among women with a BRCA1 mutation, and 36% among women without a BRCA mutation.

These results suggest that women with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation tend to survive longer with ovarian cancer than women who do not have one of these mutations. Women with a BRCA2 mutation had the best outcome, although five-year overall survival was still only 52%.

Reference: Bolton KL, Chenevix-Trench G, Goh C et al. Association between BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations and survival in women with invasive epithelial ovarian cancer. JAMA. 2012;307:382-390.

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Tags: News, Ovarian Cancer, Screening/Prevention Ovarian Cancer, Uncategorized