Angelina Jolie's decision for surgery might not be right for everyone carrying BRCA mutations
WebMD News from HealthDay
By Amy Norton
TUESDAY, April 7, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Women who carry mutations in certain genes face a much higher risk of breast and ovarian cancers, but the impact varies depending on the type and location of the mutation, new research finds.
Film star Angelina Jolie, who carries a BRCA1 mutation, weighed that risk last month when she announced that she'd had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed, almost two years after undergoing a double mastectomy.
In a column published in The New York Times, Jolie stressed that her decision was personal, and that other women who carry BRCA mutations should choose what's right for them.
This latest research aims to help women with these mutations arrive at a more concise sense of their individual risk.
"The goal of this study is to start to provide women with better risk estimates," said lead researcher Timothy Rebbeck, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, in Philadelphia.
"We want to give them figures based on their own mutations, and not just a general number," Rebbeck explained.
Published in the April 7 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, the study focused on women who carried inherited mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes.
It's well known that mutations in those genes substantially raise a woman's lifetime risk of breast and ovarian cancers. But the latest findings show that it's more nuanced than that: The degree of the increase varies depending on the type of mutation and its location on the genes.
The findings are just a "first step," Rebbeck and his colleagues said. And they do not provide any hard numbers that are immediately helpful to doctors and patients.
But that is coming, Rebbeck added.
Cassie Connerty is a physician's assistant who counsels women at the High-Risk Breast Clinic at Scott & White Hospital in Round Rock, Texas. She said the findings are "very interesting," and could eventually allow women to have a more personalized estimate of their cancer risks.
"Right now, we give women kind of a rough estimate," said Connerty, who was not involved in the study.
source : Genes Linked to Breast, Ovarian Cancers Act Differently in Each Woman: Study