That is the conclusion of a team of researchers from the Institut Curie in Paris after studying a group of these high-risk patients for a median nine years after surgery for breast cancer. They found that these women, who were carrying either the BRCA1or BRCA 2 mutation, had no higher rate of recurrence than patients in the control arm of the study with no family history of the disease.
Dr Youlia Kirova told a news briefing at the 4th European Breast Cancer Conference that the only factor associated with a higher risk of recurrence was young age.
The study involved 131 patients (and 136 tumours) with a family history of breast and/or ovarian cancer who had been treated by breast conservation therapy and radiotherapy. They were matched with 261 patients with no family history. A fifth of the women with a family history of cancer carried BRCA mutations. Nineteen patients (involving 21 tumours) had a BRCA1 mutation and eight had a BRCA2 mutation.
Dr Kirova, an assistant professor in the radiotherapy department headed by Professor Alain Fourquet, said that the tumours in the BRCA carriers were more often grade III and oestrogen receptor negative. Grade III breast cancers are poorly differentiated and more aggressive and oestrogen negative tumours have a higher risk of spreading to other parts of the body and do not respond to hormone treatment.
"Despite the aggressiveness of these types of tumours we found after almost nine years of follow-up that there was no significant difference in recurrence between the BRCA carriers and the non-carriers with a family history or between the BRCA carriers and those with no family history."
However, added Dr Kirova, the rate of a new breast cancer appearing in the other breast was higher in all
Contact: Margaret Willson
Federation of European Cancer Societies