Gene mutations 'could increase survival of ovarian cancer patients'

26 January 2012

Women with ovarian cancer who carry the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations are more likely to survive the illness.

This is according to research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which discovered that faulty genes that fail to repair DNA in the cancerous cells could make them more vulnerable to treatments such as chemotherapy.

Combining 26 international trials, scientists found that 44 per cent of women with BRCA1 faults and 52 per cent of women with BRCA2 faults survived five years after they were diagnosed with the cancer.

In comparison, only 36 per cent of women without a fault in one of the two genes were alive five years after receiving a diagnosis.

Cancer Research UK's Dr Paul Pharoah, who led the study at the University of Cambridge, said: "Women with BRCA faults respond better than we thought to current treatments but it's important that researchers now look at what treatment approaches work best for women without those genetic faults."

He added that the findings could change the way ovarian cancer is treated.

Data from the charity showed that 4,373 women in the UK died from ovarian cancer in 2008, compared to 6,537 who were diagnosed with the disease.

Posted by Philip Briggs

Bolton et al.,"A multi-center study to evaluate the impact of germline BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations on Ovarian Cancer Survival.", Journal of the American Medical Association, January 2012

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