Study uncovers differences in genetic mutations between younger and older breast cancer patients

Women younger than 40 years of age with advanced breast cancer often suffer from more aggressive disease and worse prognoses than their older counterparts. Knowing which types of genetic mutations these patients tend to have could inform treatment strategies and improve outcomes. In a new study, Yale Cancer Center researchers investigated the genomic alterations of patients with breast cancer, uncovering differences between younger and older patients. The findings will be presented at the 2022 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

Knowing which genomic alterations this group of women has allows us to better tailor therapies. It can lead to more effective treatment and better outcomes for patients."

Norin Ansari, medical oncology/hematology fellow at Yale Cancer Center and lead author of the study

The researchers analyzed 2,049 breast cancer samples and compared findings across three age groups: patients younger than 30 years old, patients 30 to 39 years old, and patients 40 and older. Patients in the younger age groups had higher rates of BRCA1 mutations and lower rates of CDH1 and PIK3CA mutations than did older patients.

"This is important information to have because patients with different types of mutations will respond differently to the drugs we have available," said Mariya Rozenblit, an instructor of medicine (medical oncology) at Yale Cancer Center and an author of the study.

"These findings will help us better determine which drugs to use," added Maryam Lustberg, associate professor of medicine (medical oncology) at Yale School of Medicine, director of the Breast Center at Smilow Cancer Hospital and Yale Cancer Center, and senior author of the study. "They'll give us a head start when treating young women with breast cancer."

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