A new study has shown that women with inherited BRCA mutations have a better survival rate for ovarian cancer than women without such mutations.
Mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes cause hereditary breast-ovarian cancer syndrome, where carriers have a substantially increased risk of developing breast and ovarian cancers, though their risk of breast cancer is higher than for ovarian cancer. Up to 10% of ovarian cancer cases may be caused by genetic defects such as BRCA mutations.
Now, research combining studies of more than 1000 mutation carriers and 2500 controls in total examined five-year survival rates following diagnosis of invasive (advanced) ovarian cancer, which were found to be 36% for non-carriers, 44% for BRCA1 mutation carriers and 52% for BRCA2 mutation carriers.
These findings may reflect biological differences between the tumours. Researcher Dr Paul Pharoah said that trials of treatments for ovarian cancers should include mutation testing, to see whether carriers respond differently from non-carriers, as a step towards potential personalisation of therapies.