‘Jolie-gen’ drug may reduce breast cancer risk: Daily pill reduces risk of relapse in women

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‘Jolie gene’ drug may reduce breast cancer risk: Daily Pill cuts risk of relapse in women with defective BRCA gene by 42 percent, study shows

  • Olaparib lowers the chance of cancer coming back or spreading in people with a gene
  • BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene increase the risk of getting breast cancer by up to 90%
  • New treatment will save thousands of lives and provide an alternative to mastectomy
  • Angelina Jolie had a preventive double mastectomy in 2013 because of the gene

Women with hereditary breast cancer can be cured of the disease by taking daily pills, a large study has found.

A revolutionary drug called Olaparib has been shown to reduce the chance of breast cancer recurrence or spread in women with the defective BRCA gene by as much as 42 percent.

About 5 percent of women with breast cancer carry mutated versions of the BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 genes, which increase the risk of getting the disease by up to 90 percent.

Actress Angelina Jolie underwent a preventive double mastectomy in 2013 after testing positive for the mutated BRCA1 gene.

The new treatment will save thousands of lives and provide an alternative to life-changing preventive mastectomy.

Actress Angelina Jolie underwent a preventive double mastectomy in 2013 after testing positive for the mutated BRCA1 gene, which causes breast cancer. [File photo]

A revolutionary drug called Olaparib found to reduce the chance of breast cancer recurrence or spread in women with the defective BRCA gene by up to 42 percent

A revolutionary drug called Olaparib found to reduce the chance of breast cancer recurrence or spread in women with the defective BRCA gene by up to 42 percent

There is currently no targeted treatment for women with these mutations, who typically develop breast cancer at a younger age.

But yesterday, a large study revealed that they are 42 percent less likely to have a relapse if they take Olaparib.

‘Reassuring for my children’

When Caroline Wheeldon was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago, genetic testing revealed that she has the BRCA2 mutation that can be passed on to her two children.

Ms Wheeldon, 40, pictured, said it was reassuring to know that the new treatment exists if her children have the gene, so they don’t need preventive surgery. Mrs. Wheedon has had a double mastectomy and her ovaries and fallopian tubes have been removed.

Pictured: Caroline Wheeldon

Pictured: Caroline Wheeldon

The drug has already been found to extend the lives of women with ovarian cancer and was approved for use by the NHS in 2015.

About 1,832 women with early-stage breast cancer and the BRCA mutations – who had completed standard treatment including chemotherapy – took part in the UK-led study with half receiving Olaparib for a year and the rest a placebo.

Over the next three years, the rate of relapse was 42 percent lower in the group receiving Olaparib. Fewer deaths were also reported in this group.

Olaparib takes advantage of a weakness in cancer cells’ defenses to kill a tumor without damaging healthy tissue.

Study leader Professor Andrew Tutt, of the London Institute of Cancer Research, said he was pleased with the study results.

He added: ‘Olaparib has the potential to be used as a follow-up to all standard initial breast cancer treatments to reduce the number of life-threatening recurrences and the spread of cancer for many patients.’

dr. Simon Vincent, of Breast Cancer Now, said: ‘It is extremely exciting that this groundbreaking study could pave the way for targeted treatment of women with high-risk HER2-negative primary breast cancer with altered BRCA genes.’

Professor Paul Workman, chief executive of The Institute of Cancer Research, said: ‘Olaparib was the world’s first cancer drug to target heritable genetic defects.

It is now also the first targeted drug shown to effectively treat patients with inherited mutations and early stage breast cancer. I would like to see this new treatment approved and available as soon as possible.’

The research is published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

‘Rocket’ targeting prostate tumors

Thousands of men with advanced prostate cancer are expected to benefit from radical radiotherapy treatment that has been shown to extend life expectancy.

It uses radioactive molecules that act like a ‘guided missile’ to find and kill the cancer cells.

The results of the first large trial of Lu-PSMA-617 therapy showed that it extends the lifespan of men with advanced cancer by an average of four months. The findings were presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology conference.

Study co-author Professor Johann de Bono of The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, said: ‘This treatment works like a guided missile – looking for cancer cells.’

The radiotherapy targets a protein on the surface of the cancer cells called PSMA and blasts it with a radioactive isotope called Lutetium-177.

The trial involved 831 patients and was led by an international group, including the Institute of Cancer Research in London.

The Mail campaigns for urgent improvements in prostate cancer care.

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