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SCIENCE FILE | Science in Brief

Genetically Susceptible Women Get Less Agressive Ovarian Cancer

November 07, 1996|From Times staff and wire reports

Doctors have found one small bit of good news for women who inherit a genetic susceptibility to ovarian cancer: Their form of the disease is less aggressive than that in women who do not have a genetic susceptibility but still get ovarian cancer.

Women who are born with this tendency, which results from a flaw in a gene called BRCA1, face about a 65% lifetime risk of getting ovarian cancer and an 85% risk of breast cancer. There is a 95% risk they will get one or the other.

Dr. Stephen C. Rubin and his colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center examined 53 women with ovarian cancer. They report in the Nov. 7 New England Journal of Medicine that those with a defective BRCA1 gene lived for an average of 6.5 years once the cancer was diagnosed, while those with a normal gene survived for only a little over two years.

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