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The Importance of Genetic Testing
Ovarian cancer is supposed to be a unique type of cancer because, among its patients, there is a high percentage of those who have an inherited genetic mutation.
How are Genetic Mutations Responsible for Causing Cancer?
Our cells contain genes that carry chemical information about how we look, grow and function. Every person has two copies of each gene, one inherited from mother and the other from father.
Sometimes some of the genes may undergo changes known as genetic mutations or alterations. Such mutations increase the risk of developing various illnesses.
A person having such mutated genes carries a 50/50 (one in two) risk of passing it on to each of her/his children.
What is Hereditary or Familial Ovarian Cancer?
When in the ovarian cancer detection, it occurs that cancer has been caused by a mutated gene for ovarian cancer that has been passed to that person from one of her parents, it’s called hereditary or familial ovarian cancer.
What to Do if You are Diagnosed with a Hereditary Ovarian Cancer?
There are a lot of things you can consider if you are diagnosed with a hereditary ovarian cancer.
First, you should consider the impact on you. Some ovarian cancers caused by ovarian cancer gene can also increase your risk of developing other types of cancers such as breast cancer; so, you’ll have to learn ways to deal with this increased risk.
Secondly, you have to consider an impact on other family members because they may also have inherited the mutated gene/s which could increase their risk of developing ovarian and breast cancer.
How is Hereditary Ovarian Cancer Diagnosed?
Women diagnosed with non-mucinous ovarian cancer regardless of family history should be provided with genetic testing for mutations in their BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes (genes that prevent breast cancer).
It’s also essential to note that genetic mutations like BRCA1 and BRCA2 can take place in any family; however, they occur more commonly in certain communities, like the Ashkenazi Jewish community.
Genes Most Likely to Mutate and Increase the Risk of Ovarian Cancer
Mutations in either BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes can commonly cause hereditary ovarian cancer. But additionally, mutations in some other genes too can increase the risk of ovarian cancer; however, scientists have not yet found them.
If you’ve been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, but not provided genetic testing, you can talk to your oncologist and check if you’re eligible for testing your ovarian cancer genetic structure. You’ll also get a chance to talk to a genetic counselor to help you determine whether to have the test or not. By getting the test, you can identify and respond to any further risk to you and your family.
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