Age-Specific Overall Risk of Breast, Ovarian Cancer Among Women With BRCA1/2 Genetic Mutations


“Researchers conducted an analysis that included nearly 10,000 women with the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genetic mutations to estimate the age-specific risk of breast or ovarian cancer for women with these mutations, according to a study published by JAMA.

“The optimal clinical management of women with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations depends on accurate age specific cancer risk estimates. These can be used to estimate the absolute risk reduction from preventive strategies and to inform decisions about the age at which to begin cancer screening. Antonis C. Antoniou, Ph.D., of the University of Cambridge, England, and colleagues included 6,036 BRCA1 and 3,820 BRCA2 female carriers (5,046 unaffected and 4,810 with breast or ovarian cancer or both at study entry) in the analysis.”

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Most Popular HRT 'Nearly Trebles Risk of Breast Cancer'


“A major new study claims women who take the most commonly used form of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) are nearly three times more likely to develop breast cancer than those who do not.

“The Institute of Cancer Research looked at six years of data for 39,000 menopausal women, of whom 775 had developed the illness. It found those taking combined oestrogen-progestogen HRT – the most popular form – were 2.74 times more likely to develop breast cancer than those not using any HRT at all.

“The risk declined when women stopped taking the treatment, while there was no danger at all connected with taking only oestrogen, which accounts for half of all prescriptions.”

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The Best Ways to Prevent Breast Cancer


“As both a breast cancer specialist and a survivor of the disease, I know well that all women are at risk for breast cancer – no matter their family history of the disease.

“Only about 10 percent of breast cancers are associated with an inherited gene, such as the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic mutations. The other 90 percent of breast cancers are mostly due to lifestyle causes, reproductive choices and environmental exposures.

“While some of these factors are beyond our control, there are a number of things we can do to substantially lower our risk of developing breast cancer. In fact, half of all breast cancers could be prevented through a combination of lifestyle changes, starting as late as age 50 – and there’s a number of ways you can lower your risk.”

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Black Women Less Likely to Pursue BRCA Testing and Cancer Risk Reduction Measures


“Findings from a population-based study reported at the 2016 ASCO Annual Meeting revealed that young black women with breast cancer are much less likely to undergo testing for the BRCA gene than other women. Or, if they do carry a BRCA mutation, they are less likely to get a prophylactic mastectomy or salpingo-oophorectomy to reduce the risk of developing cancer.

“The research identified disparities in recipients of BRCA testing between non-Hispanic white women, Hispanic, and black women, with the latter being the least likely to undergo testing. Likewise, black women who were BRCA carriers were less likely to undergo risk-management practices compared with their white and Hispanic counterparts.

“ ‘We need to understand the reasons for these findings,’ said lead study author Tuya Pal, MD, a clinical geneticist at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida. Ultimately, it’s the patient who must decide whether to have genetic testing and take prophylactic measures for risk management, Pal said.”

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Aspirin Doesn't Help Breast Cancer Outcomes, May Aid Detection

“Researchers found no link between taking aspirin and improved breast cancer outcomes, however the drug’s effect on breast density may help with earlier diagnosis, according to two new studies presented at a conference on breast cancer.

“Several studies have shown aspirin to cut the risk of colorectalbreast and other cancers.

“Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania presented the new studies at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

” ‘Past studies have found that aspirin may hold anti-cancer benefits. However, many of them were preliminary, preclinical, and didn’t support a clear mortality benefit. They also didn’t look at prior use of aspirin,’ said Dr. Julia Tchou, an associate professor of surgery at the University of Pennsylvania, in a press release. ‘Our data did not support the notion that this century-old pill has protective qualities and down-the-road benefits for breast cancer patients. However, larger patient cohort studies are needed to confirm our results.’ “

Here’s the Amount of Exercise That Lowers Breast Cancer Risk

“More than 100 studies have found that physical activity can lower breast cancer risk; the most active women tend to have a 25% lower chance of developing the disease than the least active women. But how does exercise help?

“Christine Friedenreich, scientific leader of cancer epidemiology and prevention research at Alberta Health Services, and her colleagues had identified body fat as a possible pathway to lowering cancer risk. In an earlier study, they found that women exercising 225 minutes a week showed dramatic drops in total body fat, abdominal fat and other adiposity measures.

“That inspired the team to examine more closely the effects of the commonly recommended 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise a week on body fat measures. They compared these effects to a doubling of that amount of activity, to 300 minutes a week, to see if more exercise had a greater effect in lowering body fat.”

VIDEO: Uptake of Chemoprevention for Breast Cancer Remains Poor

“Patricia Ganz, MD, medical oncologist at the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center at UCLA, discusses an education session at the ASCO Annual Meeting that examined reasons why chemoprevention is underutilized in patients with breast cancer.

“ ‘In spite of high-level evidence from multiple randomized clinical trials that show substantial reduction in the risk of getting breast cancer — especially ER-positive breast cancer — very few women are identified as being at high risk,’ Ganz told HemOnc Today. ‘And even of those who are identified, the recommendation and the use of … tamoxifen and raloxifene is very infrequent.’ ”

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New Genetic Tests for Breast Cancer Hold Promise

“A Silicon Valley start-up with some big-name backers is threatening to upend genetic screening for breast and ovarian cancer by offering a test on a sample of saliva that is so inexpensive that most women could get it.

“At the same time, the nation’s two largest clinical laboratories, Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp, normally bitter rivals, are joining with French researchers to pool their data to better interpret mutations in the two main breast cancer risk genes, known as BRCA1 and BRCA2. Other companies and laboratories are being invited to join the effort, called BRCA Share.

“The announcements being made on Tuesday, although coincidental in their timing, speak to the surge in competition in genetic risk screening for cancer since 2013, when the Supreme Court invalidated the gene patents that gave Myriad Genetics a monopoly on BRCA testing.

“The field has also been propelled by the actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie, who has a BRCA1 mutation and has written about her own decision to have her breasts, ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to sharply reduce her risk of developing cancer.

“But the issue of who should be tested remains controversial. The effort of the start-up, Color Genomics, to ‘democratize access to genetic testing,’ in the words of the chief executive, Elad Gil, is generating concern among some experts.”

90 Percent of All Breast Cancers Can Be Detected with MRI

“Around 90 per cent of all breast cancers can be definitively diagnosed using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This compares to the combined methods of mammography and ultrasound which yielded a detection rate of just 37.5 per cent. This is the key finding of a study published in the highly respected Journal of Clinical Oncology. The study was carried out at the University Department of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine at the MedUni Vienna in cooperation with the University Department of Gynaecology and Obstetrics and the Clinical Institute of Pathology.

” ‘In cases where there is even the slightest doubt, and especially in women at increased risk, the obvious choice is MRI. Our study clearly shows the superiority of magnetic resonance imaging over mammography and breast ultrasound examinations,’ says Thomas Helbich, who led the study with Christopher Riedl. “The superiority of MRI is also completely independent of the patient’s age, gene mutation status and breast density.”

“In 559 women at increased risk, a total of 1,365 screening examinations were carried out. There was one clear ‘winner’: 90 per cent of all breast cancers can be clearly detected by MRI. The combination of MRI and mammography increased the detection rate by just five per cent. None of the cancers were detected by ultrasound alone. The results were similar for non-invasive cancers and for benign breast lesions.”