A study of nearly 3,000 British women also found that a double mastectomy straight after being diagnosed with this type of breast cancer did not improve survival over 10 years. But researchers said surgery could still be beneficial in the long term. Experts said women with breast cancer should take time to decide if surgery was the right choice.

The BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer by four-to-eightfold. It has been dubbed the ‘Angelina Jolie gene’, after the actress revealed she underwent preventative surgery on learning she had an up to 87% chance of developing breast cancer.  Mutations in these genes stop DNA repairing itself and increase the risk of cancer developing. They are also linked to an increased risk of ovarian and prostate cancers, as well as breast cancer. In the study, those with the BRCA mutation were equally likely to have survived at the two-, five- and 10-year mark as those without the genetic mutation. The study, published in The Lancet Oncology, found 12% of 2,733 women aged 18 to 40 treated for breast cancer at 127 hospitals across the UK between 2000 and 2008 had a BRCA mutation. The women’s medical records were tracked for up to 10 years. During this time, 651 of the women died from breast cancer, and those with the BRCA mutation were equally likely to have survived the first 10 years as those without the genetic mutation. This was not affected by the women’s body mass index or ethnicity. About a third of those with the BRCA mutation had a double mastectomy to remove both breasts. This surgery did not appear to improve their chances of survival at the 10-year mark.

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