The study was conducted by Ramsey Cutress, an associate professor in breast surgery at the University of Southampton and his team. This research was funded by Cancer Research UK and its findings were published in the British Journal of Surgery.
The purpose of the research was to reassure women who were worried about genetics interfering with their cancer treatment.
The Prospective Outcomes in Sporadic versus Hereditary breast cancer (POSH) included 2,850 women. All participants of the study were 41 or younger, suffered from breast cancer, and treated in UK.
The result of the study revealed that there were no differences in rate of cancer’s recurrence after treatment for women without history of breast cancer in the family and women with history of breast cancer in family.
Professor Ramsey Cutress said: “‘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. Patients with a family history of breast cancer can therefore be reassured that their family history alone does not mean that their outcome will be worse.”
The popular belief states that having ovarian or breast cancer patients in the family, increases the risk of being diagnosed with these diseases. However, most cases of breast or ovarian cancer do not run in the family.
Certain genes commonly known as BRCA1 and BRCA2, increase the risk of developing both breast and ovarian cancer. Additionally it is possible for these genes to be passed on from a parent to their child. There is also a third gene, TP53 which is connected to increased risk of breast cancer as well.
However, the history of breast cancer in the family does not necessarily affect the treatment as confirmed by the new study.
The next step for researchers is to conduct an investigation and find out whether the genes which increase the risk of getting breast cancer can have any influence on the success of various anti-cancer treatments, including chemotherapy.
Principal investigator of the study, Professor Diana Eccles of the University of Southampton, said: “‘there is some evidence in laboratory experiments and observations in humans that BRCA1 gene carriers in particular may be more sensitive to certain types of chemotherapy. If the outlook is more optimistic than might be expected for these patients, this will help in planning future preventive surgical options at the time of breast cancer treatment.”
Breast cancer is the most frequent type of cancer in women. The UK, USA, along with Australia and New Zealand are regions with the highest breast cancer incidence. Despite the high incidence rate, if caught early the disease is beatable. In Western countries, 89% of women diagnosed with the cancer were still alive 5 years after diagnosis, due to catching disease at its beginning and reacting promptly after detection.
Nearly 400,000 lives worldwide could be saved with early detection and treatment of breast cancer.