SGO: Ovarian cancer patients with BRCA mutations fare better

May 21, 2008

Women with advanced ovarian cancer with BRCA mutations survive longer and may respond better to chemotherapy than women without BRCA mutations, according to research presented at the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists' 39th Annual Meeting on Women's Cancer in Tampa, FL.

Women with advanced ovarian cancer with BRCA mutations survive longer and may respond better to chemotherapy than women without BRCA mutations, according to research presented at the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists' 39th Annual Meeting on Women's Cancer in Tampa, FL.

Karen Lu, MD, of the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and colleagues compared 85 advanced-stage ovarian cancer patients expressing non-Ashkenazi Jewish BRCA mutations to 116 ovarian cancer patients without BRCA mutations, and found that BRCA carriers had improved overall survival (101.4 months vs.

65.6 months) and a 2.15 times greater odds of a complete response to initial chemotherapy compared to non-BRCA carriers.

In a second study, Lu and colleagues surveyed 225 patients with ovarian cancer and found that 56% had not heard of BRCA testing, despite the fact that the test has been available for more than 10 years. Lack of awareness of BRCA testing was highest in minorities, with 69% of Hispanic and 88% of black respondents unaware of BRCA testing compared to 52% of white women.

"Patients typically associate genetic testing with benefiting family members and offspring," Lu noted. "Both of these studies illustrate that it is equally important for the cancer patient to get information from their doctors about genetic testing because it not only has implications for their family, but their own treatment and prognosis."

More details are available online at http://www.sgo.org/ content.aspx?id=58.