Women's College Research Institute

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Improving outcomes for women with breast cancer

Story from Impact, November 2013

 

Dr. Steven NarodDr. Steven Narod, a Tier I Canada Research Chair in Breast Cancer and Director of Familial Breast Cancer Research at Women’s College Research Institute, recently investigated the 10-year survival rate for women below the age of 50 with early-onset breast cancer, with and without a BRCA1 mutation. BRCA1, along with BRCA2, are genes that help repair DNA, but when mutated, increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancers.

“For women already diagnosed with breast cancer, we found that having a BRCA1 mutation didn’t change their chance of survival,” says Narod, who led the study. “But, among women with a mutation, survival improved if their ovaries were removed. This suggests that ovary removal surgery, along with chemotherapy, should be considered a standard of care for these women.”

Narod and his team were able to do the study because they have a large, comprehensive database of young women in Poland with breast cancer that they have followed since 1996. All of the women were genetically tested for BRCA1 mutations, creating a unique opportunity to study the impact of the mutations on cancer prognosis and response to treatments. The team’s findings were published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

“We want to offer the best treatments for women with breast cancer,” says Narod. “Knowing whether a woman has a mutation in her BRCA genes will help guide treatment decisions and improve the health and longevity of women around the world.”



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