ORLANDO, Fla. -- Women with ovarian cancer who have the BRCA2 gene mutation are more likely to survive the malignancy than women with the BRCA1 mutation, or women without either mutation.
In results presented at the AACR 102nd Annual Meeting 2011, held April 2-6, Kelly Bolton, a fellow at the National Cancer Institute, said the findings describe the effect of these mutations in ovarian cancer survival.
"There was some previous evidence that women with ovarian cancer who have mutations in the BRCA genes show improved survival compared to non-mutation carriers," said Bolton. "Our study clearly shows that this survival difference is real. We also provide the first solid evidence that BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations don't have the same impact on ovarian cancer survival."
"Previous studies have been somewhat conflicting because of their small size and methodological limitations," she added.
Bolton and colleagues evaluated 3,531 cases of epithelial ovarian cancer, including 1,178 women with BRCA1 mutations, 367 with BRCA2 mutations, and 1,986 with neither mutation. Overall, women with either the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation had better survival compared to patients who carried the wild-type for both genes. After adjusting for baseline characteristics, the five-year survival of women without mutations was 36 percent. Survival for BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation carriers was 46 percent and 61 percent, respectively.
Bolton said further study is needed to explain why women with BRCA2 mutations had better survival than BRCA1 carriers, or those without either mutation. She hypothesized the mutations may affect a patient's response to chemotherapy.
Approximately 1 in 400 to 1 in 800 women are born with mutations in either BRCA1 or BRCA2, which are known to predispose carriers to the development of ovarian and breast cancer. The risks differ between the two mutations. Roughly 5 percent of ovarian cancer patients carry mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2.
"This information may lead to improvements in clinical management of patients with these mutations," she suggested.
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The mission of the American Association for Cancer Research is to prevent and cure cancer. Founded in 1907, the AACR is the world's oldest and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research. The membership includes 33,000 basic, translational and clinical researchers; health care professionals; and cancer survivors and advocates in the United States and more than 90 other countries. The AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise from the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer through high-quality scientific and educational programs. It funds innovative, meritorious research grants, research fellowships and career development awards. The AACR Annual Meeting attracts more than 18,000 participants who share the latest discoveries and developments in the field. Special conferences throughout the year present novel data across a wide variety of topics in cancer research, treatment and patient care. Including Cancer Discovery, the AACR publishes seven major peer-reviewed journals: Cancer Research; Clinical Cancer Research; Molecular Cancer Therapeutics; Molecular Cancer Research; Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention; and Cancer Prevention Research. AACR journals represented 20 percent of the market share of total citations in 2009. The AACR also publishes CR, a magazine for cancer survivors and their families, patient advocates, physicians and scientists.