Women diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer under the age of 35 were more likely to have the BRCA genetic mutation that women diagnosed at a later age, according to research done in Malaysia and published in the journal Breast Cancer Research.  The researchers analyzed tumors of 430 women from the Malaysian Breast Cancer Genetic Study, 110 of whom had been diagnosed with TNBC.  

Women with TNBC, as a group,  were no more likely to have the BRCA mutation than those with other forms of breast cancer.  But, when researchers looked at the data according to age groupings, they saw an increase in the mutation for younger women, but not for those over 35.

A family history of breast cancer increases the likelihood that a younger woman has the mutation.

Other studies have shown that women with the BRCA mutations are more likely to get breast cancer at a younger age and are more likely to have TNBC than older women.

Some highlights from the study:

• Up to 24.5 percent of the women had the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations.

• Among women with no family history, 8.5 percent of women with TNBC and 6.7 percent of women with non-TNBC had BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations.

• 28.0 percent of women who were diagnosed with TNBC when they were 35 years old or younger were BRCA1 carriers, compared to 4.2 percent BRCA1 and 5.6 percent BRCA2 among women diagnosed with non-TNBC. 

• Among women who had a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, 42.1 percent of those with TNBC were BRCA1 or BRCA2 carriers compared to 14.2% of those with non- TNBC. 

• The women were all of Asian descent.

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