Drug used to treat "Angelina Jolie gene" may cure 1 in 5 women with breast cancer

Drugs used to treat breast cancer patients who carry the BRCA1 mutation may also work for thousands of other women, a study has found.

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BRCA1 is a genetic mutation carried by some women. It hit mainstream headlines in May 2013 when Angelina Jolie had both breasts surgically removed after discovering she carried the mutation which dramatically increases the chance of being diagnosed with potentially fatal breast cancer. The mutation in her BRCA1 gene, left her with an estimated 87 per cent risk of breast cancer and 50 per cent risk of ovarian cancer.
The actress lost her mother, grandmother and aunt to cancer.

Now, experts at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, say around 10,000 women a year in the UK might benefit from these targeted drugs even if they don't carry the gene.

The scientists studied the genetic make-up of breast cancer in 560 different patients and found that a significant proportion of them had genetic errors similar to faulty BRCA. Given the similarity, these cancers might be treatable with biological therapies too, they concluded but stated that further clinical trials are required.

Around 55,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK each year, this could mean as many as 1 in 5 women could be respondent to this type of treatment.

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