BRCA mutations do not affect risk of breast cancer death

September 1, 2007

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The presence of a mutation in the BRCA genes has no significant effect on the risk of death from breast cancer in women with invasive breast cancer, according to a study conducted in Israel and published in the July 12 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Gad Rennert, MD, PhD, of Carmel Medical Center in Haifa, Israel, and colleagues examined breast cancer outcomes based on the presence of three founder mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes in Israeli women diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in 1987–1988.

The researchers found that 10% of the women of Ashkenazi Jewish descent carried a mutation. Medical records were available for 1,545 women, which showed that the risk of death from breast cancer was not significantly different in carriers and noncarriers (adjusted hazard ratio, 0.76 for BRCA1 carriers, 1.31 for BRCA2 carriers).

Rennert G, Bisland-Naggan S, Barnett-Griness O, et al. Clinical outcomes of breast cancer in carriers of BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations. N Engl J Med. 2007;357:115-123.