A research suggests that young women treated for breast cancer carrying faulty BRCA genes are not less likely to survive than those without them. A study of nearly 3,000 British women found that a double mastectomy straight after being diagnosed with this type of breast cancer did not improve survival over 10 years. It has been tagged the 'Angelina Jolie gene', after the she took preventative surgery on learning she had 87% chance of developing breast cancer. Mutation in these genes stop DNA in repairing itself and increase the risk of cancer, as it is also linked to an increased risk of ovarian and prostate cancers, as well as breast cancer.


The study shows those with the BRCA mutation are likely to survive at two, five and 10 years mark as those without the genetic mutation. The study which was published in The Lancet Oncology, found 12% of 2,733 women aged 18 to 40 treated for breast cancer at 127 hospitals across the UK between 2000 and 2008 had a BRCA mutation. During this time, 651 of the women died from breast cancer, and those with the BRCA mutation were equally likely to have survived the first 10 years as those without the genetic mutation. Irrespective of their body mass index or ethnicity. About a third of those with the BRCA mutation had a double mastectomy to remove both breasts after being diagnosed with cancer. This surgery does not appear to improve the chances of survival at the 10-year mark.


The study's author, Professor Diana Eccles, of the University of Southampton, said, “Women diagnosed with early breast cancer who carry a BRCA mutation are often offered double mastectomies soon after their diagnosis or chemotherapy treatment. “However, our findings suggest that this surgery does not have to be immediately undertaken along with the other treatment.” She stated that surgery may still be beneficial for patients to reduce their risk in the longer term, such as two to three decades after their initial diagnosis.


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