Heredity of Ovarian Cancer
The common pathogenic genes of ovarian cancer are BRCA1 and BRCA2, and about 10-15% of ovarian cancers are caused by genetic mutations. The presence of a genetic mutation related to ovarian cancer does not necessitate ovarian cancer. However, the lifetime risk of developing ovarian cancer for those with related genetic mutations is 50 times higher than those without, and there is a 50% chance of this genetic mutation being inherited by the next generation. Those tested with a high genetic risk of ovarian cancer should therefore start ovarian cancer screening tests as soon as possible and in more frequent intervals. This is such that ovarian cancer can be detected at an early stage of onset, which will increase effectiveness of treatment interventions.
Is There A Need for Genetic Testing Even After Being Diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer? American Society of Clinical Oncology Suggests All Patients with Epithelial Ovarian Cancer Need BRCA Gene Testing
According to ovarian cancer guidelines issued by the American Society of Clinical Oncology in February 2020, all individuals diagnosed with epithelial ovarian cancer should undergo BRCA1/2 genetic testing, regardless of whether they have a family history of ovarian cancer. The guidelines state that genetic testing for those with ovarian cancer can aid in assembling prognostic information and facilitate better treatment options for the individual. Further analysis of genetic information will also help reveal whether the individual’s family members have the risk of carrying such genetic mutations.
Although many medical societies around the world recommend that women with ovarian cancer undergo genetic testing, only about 30% of women with ovarian cancer do so. It is the hope that the implementation of these medical guidelines will ensure that all patients with ovarian cancer can receive the best possible care, not just for themselves, but also for the sake of their families and future generations.
What should an individual do if in possession of an ovarian cancer gene mutation?
Being a carrier of ovarian-cancer-related gene mutations means that the individual will have a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer than the average person. According to the recommendations of the Cancer Expert Working Group (CEWG) from the Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health in the Hong Kong Government, women at general risk do not need to be screened if they do not have symptoms of ovarian cancer; on the other hand, women who are at high genetic risk of ovarian cancer should consider seeking additional medical advice to evaluate their course of action regarding possibly developing ovarian cancer, be it a formal diagnosis, further genetic testing, or regular screening needs.