Breast cancer: Existing drug shows promise for prevention in high-risk women

In a study published the journal Nature Medicine, researchers reveal how the drug denosumab halted the growth of pre-cancerous cells in breast tissue of women with a faulty BRCA1 gene.

Women with a BRCA1 gene mutation are at significantly greater risk for breast and ovarian cancers; around 55-65 percent of women with such a mutation will develop the disease by the age of 70, according to the National Cancer Institute, compared with 12 percent of those in the general population.

At present, the only way for women with a BRCA1 mutation to significantly reduce their risk of breast and ovarian cancers is to opt for a mastectomy – the surgical removal of one or both breasts – or an oophorectomy – the removal of the ovaries.

But in this latest study, Prof. Geoff Lindeman, of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI), Australia, and colleagues show promise for a non-surgical alternative.

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