BRCA gene associated with infertility

Emobileclinic Researchers’ Corner

brca 1

 Several studies are coming out revealing the association between infertility and BRCA gene (which increases the chances of breast cancer by 80%) According to Dr.  Kutluk Oktay, M.D., professor of obstetrics and gynecology and principal investigator on the study, BBCA1 mutations have been linked with early onset breast cancer and is also associated with an early loss of egg reserves. This finding may help to explain why women who carry a mutated BRCA1 gene have greater rates of infertility as well as a greater risk for breast and ovarian cancer.

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An Australian researcher – Dr. Kelly – Anna Phillips who is a consultant medical oncology at Peter MacCallum Cancer Center,East Melbourne, some days ago also observed similar situation. She says ”a woman who is a BRCA 1 at age 35 has ovaries that look more like the ovaries of 37 years old of a non- BRCA1 carrier” She believes women with BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 gene apart from having high risk of breast cancer have their chances high of ovaries and fallopian tube cancers.

Dr. Oktay in his study performed ovarian stimulation on 126 women with breast cancer for the purpose of preservation of embryo or oocyte cryopreservation. The results revealved that of the 82 women who met the inclusion criteria, 47 women  had undergone BRCA testing, with 14 having a mutation in BRCA genes. In BRCA mutation-positive patients, the low ovarian response rate was significantly greater than for patients who did not show BRCA gene mutations, nor for women who had not been tested for the gene at all.

Dr Phills feels BRCA 1 mutation may affect DNA repair as revealed to have contributed immensely to the aging of the woman’s egg in her study. Her study examined AMH level of 700 women with no history of breast cancer of age between 25 and 45  for a period of 15 years. 311 women eventually have these gene. Among these carriers,the risk of ovarian cancer among the women with BRCA1 was 63% and 27% for BRCA2.  

Women with these gene now sought removal of various parts that might be at risk of cancer. Trending in U.K and U.S now is removal of breast before cancer attacks at detection of the presence of the gene, and removal of ovaries and tubes. ”BRCA carriers feel the urgency to conceive and complete their family before they go through the inevitable removal of their tubes and ovaries. This new study indicates that ,at least for BRCA1 carriers, the window of opportunity to get pregnant may be narrower” ,says the author .

Just a thought about how prepared Nigeria women are on this is what remain uncertain. Where are we on this? Are you aware of this gene? 

Dr Oktay said if fertility drugs are not as effective in stimulating egg production in the ovaries of patients who carry BRCA1 mutations, this establishes a link between infertility and the risk of getting breast or ovarian cancer.


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