Background: Deleterious BRCA mutation carriers with breast cancer are at increased risk for additional breast cancer events. This study evaluated the impact that timing of identification of BRCA+ status has on surgical decision and outcome. Methods: The authors reviewed all BRCA carriers at their institution whose breast cancer was diagnosed between January 1996 and June 2015. Patient surveys, medical records, and institutional databases were used to collect data. Differences in surgical choice were analyzed using the chi-square test, and rates of subsequent breast cancer events were estimated using the Kaplan–Meier method. Results: The study investigated 173 BRCA carriers with breast cancer (100 BRCA1, 73 BRCA2). Of the women with known BRCA mutation before surgery and unilateral stages 0 to 3 breast cancer (n = 63), 12.7 % underwent lumpectomy, 4.8 % underwent unilateral mastectomy (UM), and 82.5 % underwent bilateral mastectomy (BM). These surgical choices differed significantly (p < 0.0001) from those of patients unaware of their mutation at the time of surgery (n = 93) (51.6 % had lumpectomy, 19.4 % had UM, 29 % had BM). Of the patients with BRCA mutation identified after surgery who underwent lumpectomy or UM, 36 (59 %) of 66 underwent delayed BM. The patients with BRCA+ known before diagnosis presented with significantly lower-stage disease (p = 0.02) at diagnosis (69 % stage 0 or 1) than those whose BRCA mutation was identified after cancer diagnosis (40 % stage 0 or 1). Conclusions: The study findings showed that BRCA mutation status influences surgical decision. The rates of BM were higher for the patients with BRCA mutation known before surgery. Identification of BRCA mutation after surgery frequently leads to subsequent breast surgery. Genetic testing before surgery is important for patients at elevated risk for BRCA mutation.
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