FDA Approves Olaparib, a PARP Inhibitor, for BRCA+ Breast Cancer

Miss Jolie 42 famously chose to have her breasts ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to reduce her cancer risk after her mother died of ovarian cancer aged just 56

"Our data provides some reassurance that patients who are diagnosed with a BRCA gene fault as part of their cancer treatment journey can complete and recover from their breast cancer treatment, which is important".

Until now most women with the gene mutation have undergone radical surgery to remove both breasts as soon as the cancer is spotted, as doctors believed the cancer was very aggressive.

United States regulators have approved the first drug to treat women with advanced breast cancers caused by the same flawed gene that Angelina Jolie made famous.

For the new study, Eccles and a team recruited 2,733 British women aged 18-40 who had been diagnosed with breast cancer between 2000 and 2008. AstraZeneca and Merck are working together to deliver Lynparza as quickly as possible to more patients across multiple settings, including breast, ovarian, prostate, and pancreatic cancers. "Understanding prognosis in young patients is important because patients with BRCA mutations are at increased risk of developing specific conditions, such as secondary cancers, including ovarian cancer, contralateral breast cancer, and de novo breast cancer in the same breast". Dave Fredrickson, Executive Vice President, Head of the Oncology Business Unit, AstraZeneca, recognizes the importance of the news: "This is significant for breast cancer patients, as the identification of BRCA status, in addition to hormone receptor and HER2 status, becomes a potentially critical step in the management of their disease".

The researchers tracked the women a their treatment for more than eight years.

"No other study has followed a group of patients from diagnosis over a long period of time to discover if carrying a high-risk inherited BRCA gene alters the likelihood of being cured of breast cancer", said lead researcher Professor Diana Eccles from the University of Southampton.

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With the decision aid, half of the women scored at least 80 out of 100 on tests of their knowledge about breast cancer and treatment options, compared with a median score of 66 for women who reviewed material on various websites.

Some women have previously made a decision to take preventative measures, such as pre-emptive mastectomies, when they discover they have faulty genes.

The gene has come to be known as the "Jolie gene", after the actress Angelina Jolie, who revealed in a New York Times article that she'd had a double mastectomy after testing positive for BRCA 1. This surgery did not appear to improve their chances of survival at the 10-year mark, according to the findings published in The Lancet Oncology.

"However, our findings suggest that this surgery does not have to be immediately undertaken along with the other treatment".

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, she said.

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