STUDY SHOWS AWARENESS OF THE RISK LOW. OVARIAN CANCER ACTION CALLS FOR ALL WOMEN TO CHECK THEIR FAMILY MEDICAL HISTORY

Following revelations that actress Angelina Jolie has the BRCA gene and undergone a double mastectomy to reduce her risks of developing breast cancer, leading research charity, Ovarian Cancer Action are calling for women, especially those with a significant family history of either breast or ovarian cancer, to check their family medical history.

Advances in genetic testing and knowledge enabling the identification of the ‘faulty’ BRCA gene mean that women with a family history of ovarian or breast cancer can now find out more about their own risk of developing the disease. A family history of breast and/or ovarian cancer may indicate that there is the presence of a BRCA mutation which increases the risk by 35-60% of getting the disease. There is also a link between BRCA and prostate cancer in men.

Women with a family history of ovarian and/or breast cancer as well as womb, bowel, stomach, pancreas, biliary and bladder cancer may have an inherited faulty gene that increases their risk of developing ovarian cancer by 10-60%. According to a study into women’s awareness of ovarian cancer[1], 87.1% knew that a family history of ovarian cancer increased risk, but only 26.7% appreciated the association with a family history of breast cancer.

Gilda Witte, Chief Executive of Ovarian Cancer Action, says; “For women who have the BRCA gene mutation there is a very stark choice. Medical science has little to offer to help these women other than removal of the breasts or ovaries. We must work hard to change that as the dilemma for women is immeasurable.” “Angelina Jolie has made this very personal decision and is very brave to talk about it. We must invest in research so that better preventative measures are developed. There is currently no screening tool, but if found in the early stages up to 90% of women will survive for more than five years. Most women are not diagnosed until it has already spread, resulting in poor survival rates.”

For more information, please visit: http://www.ovarian.org.uk

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