Friday, October 1, 2010

Yay for positive BRCA news!

Patricia Prijatel, medical journalist and author of the fantastic blog called "Positives About Negative" (great title, right?!) has just posted some positive news related to Triple Negative, BRCA-1 positive breast cancer. As Patricia points out in her post, there have been a lot of funds and research effort dedicated to triple negative cancer because its lack of receptors has made it a difficult cancer for which to target treatment.

I've posted before that triple negative cancer used to be known as "the really bad stuff." Higher rate of metastasizing, no targeted post-treatment therapies like Herceptin and Tamoxifen to reduce recurrence risk, etc. I've also posted about how the BRCA-1 mutation predisposes carriers (like me) to an upwards of 80% lifetime risk of breast cancer. One would assume that a combination of the two of these would be pretty bad news (lucky me!)

However, this study from MD Anderson concludes that those with triple negative breast cancer and a BRCA mutation have lower recurrence risk and better survival rate than women who are triple negative without the mutation! All but one of the 77 triple negative cases had the same adjuvant chemo treatment, but the 15 women who had the BRCA mutation actually fared better than those without.

Unfortunately, the study did not state what kind of surgery the women had. My guess would be that those who knew of their genetic mutation had more aggressive surgeries (bi-lateral mastectomy vs. lumpectomy) and that might account for the higher survival rate. At any rate, it's great news for a triple negative, BRCA positive gal like me! This diagnosis hasn't been filled with many statistics in my favor, so I'll take this one!

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