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Aromatase Inhibitors May Lower Breast Cancer Risk for BRCA Carriers

Women who present with a specific genetic mutation may find themselves at a much higher risk for developing breast cancer down the road. While some women take the step of undergoing prophylactic mastectomies, not all are interested in this option. Researchers are finding, however, that there may be a way to help these women lower their breast cancer risks. Aromatase inhibitors are showing a great deal of promise for doing so.

To arrive at these findings, researchers from the University of Texas studied a group of 812 women with known BRCA status. Of the women included in the study, 152 had deleterious BRCA 1 or 2 mutations. The patients were followed from the point of diagnosis with breast cancer, until contralateral breast cancer formed, or last follow-up appointment. Some patients were given aromatase inhibitors during the course of the study. These women were found to have a lower risk for developing contralateral breast cancer.

Aromatase inhibitors are commonly used as therapy in postmenopausal women who present with hormone receptor-positive breast cancer. The treatment, however, may play a role in reducing risk for contralateral breast cancer in other patients. Researchers say that more studies need to be conducted to better understand the benefits.

Invasive breast cancer strikes about 231,000 American women each year. An estimated 40,000 die from the disease. While some risk factors can be reduced or eliminated, genetic mutations may play a role in the development of the disease for some patients. Women who are concerned about breast cancer are urged to speak with their healthcare providers. Early detection and treatment of this disease can greatly increase survival rates. Routine mammograms in later life and regular self-exams and physician exams can help detect this disease in its earlier, more treatable stages. If BRCA mutations are suspected, genetic testing can help illuminate this potential risk factor, as well.

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