Ovarian cancer is a rare form of the disease, but it is an especially deadly one. With only an estimated 22,000 new cases reported annually in the United States, this form of cancer doesn’t get the recognition others might. Even so, some 14,000 women die from the disease each year. Overall, the lifetime risk of a woman getting this form of cancer is about 1 in 75, according to the American Cancer Society. The risk of a woman dying from ovarian cancer is about 1 in 100. Considering the relatively grim prognosis that accompanies this form of cancer, it should be no surprise that researchers are working hard to better understand risk factors for the disease. Nine newly discovered genetic mutations may offer insights.
Although ovarian cancer has long been associated with BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic mutations also linked to breast cancer, researchers noted these mutations didn’t begin to cover all the cases. A recent study, however, found that out of nearly 2,000 patients, about one in five had at least one of 11 genetic mutations. The nine genes that go beyond the BRCA mutations are now suspected to cause hereditary ovarian cancer like their BRCA counterparts.
The discovery of the nine new genes has prompted researchers to recommended more expanded genetic testing of women who undergo routine panels for BRCA mutations. The use of genetic testing to screen for the potential of breast cancer has been on the rise. By looking for the nine new genetic mutations, genetic counselors may be able to give women a more complete picture of their risks related to a number of difference cancers.
The study’s findings are significant in that they may help women and their doctors better gauge personal risk for developing ovarian cancer. It is estimated that about 18 percent of all cases involve genetic mutations. There are a number of other potential risk factors that go beyond genetics. They include age, obesity, reproductive history, use of birth control pills and use of fertility drugs, among others.
Ovarian cancer is detected through routine pelvic exams and other screening tests. It may present with such symptoms as pelvic pressure, abdominal bloating, urgent urination and difficulty eating, among others. Women who are concerned about ovarian cancer are urged to speak to their healthcare providers. Routine health exams may lead to early detection. Treatment in the earlier stages of the disease have been proven to be quite successful. Genetic testing may also enable women to take proactive measures to safeguard against development of this disease.
Southlake Oncology, a Choice Cancer Care Treatment Center, located in the Southlake and Grapevine area, is a community-focused oncology practice that delivers exceptional care to North Texas cancer patients with a variety of cancer diagnoses and blood disorders.