A new study published in the British Journal of Surgery has found that women who have a history of breast cancer in their family don’t have any less, or any more of a chance at recovery than women with no history of breast cancer in their family.
Ramsey Cutress, study author and associate professor in breast surgery at the University of Southampton in Britain, gave a statement informing that “Successful treatment for breast cancer is just as likely in young patients with a family history of breast cancer, as in those without a family history”.
This means good news for patients with a family history of breast cancer for a couple of reasons. On one hand, objectively speaking, they’re not genetically predisposed, or more likely to lose to the disease than patients with no history of breast cancer.
On the other hand, their morale does not suffer as it might have if they genuinely believed that they were more likely to lose to the disease than patients with no history of breast cancer, that their efforts at recovery were futile because they were already set to fail.
The doctors did mention however, that while they have just as good of chance at recovery, roughly one quarter of breast cancer cases recorded in well developed countries are believed to be related to hereditary factors. It turns out that inherited genes might be able to offer information on whether or not a patient is likely to suffer from cancer.
For the study, The Prospective Outcomes in Sporadic versus Hereditary breast cancer (POSH), researchers studied 2.850 cases belonging to British women under the age of 41, women who had previously been diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer. They compared cancer reoccurrence rates in their female patients with a family history of cancer to those of women without one.
After following the medical history of each patient for 15 years, constantly analyzing their tumors and responses to various treatments, they concluded that there were no significant differences in cancer reoccurrence rates between the two groups of women.
The researchers are planning on conducting tests even further. They suspect that certain breast cancer gene variants may have an impact on the effectiveness of different anti-cancer treatments.
Professor Diana Eccles, principal investigator in the study, explains that laboratory experiments and observations in humans have provided doctors with some evidence that BRCA1 gene carriers in particular may be more sensitive to certain types of chemotherapy.
Samia al Qadhi, chief executive at Breast Cancer Care stressed that the issue of breast cancer is a sensitive one for women. Many young patients with breast cancer are terrified about it coming back, especially if they have witnessed other family members face the disease.
She hopes that the findings will bring them some comfort and courage to keep fighting it, and reminds them of the importance of regular check-ups that can help detect cancer early on.
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