This article has been contributed by PiF Partner Macmillan Cancer Support to highlight Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, and share news about their information resources for women affected by ovarian cancer.
Help women assess their risk of ovarian cancer
During Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month and following the recent publication in The Lancet of a study on hormone replacement therapy and the risk of ovarian cancer, you may see a rise in interest in this cancer. As awareness about cancer genetics increases through more media coverage and the regular mention of the BRCA genes, and as a growing number of people are diagnosed with cancer every year, you may talk to more women concerned about their or their relative’s risk of developing ovarian cancer.
A small number of ovarian cancers, about 10%, are thought to be due to an alteration in a gene running in the family. The two genes that are most often found to be altered in hereditary ovarian cancer are BRCA1 and BRCA2. These alterations are more common in certain populations such as those with Askhenazi Jewish ancestry.
Macmillan Cancer Support has a leaflet called ‘Are you worried about ovarian cancer?’ that looks at risk factors including family history and genetics. It also explains how to reduce the risk of developing ovarian cancer.
For anyone worried about ovarian cancer in their family, Macmillan’s OPERA tool could help. OPERA is an interactive online self-assessment tool that aims to help women find out more about their genetic cancer risk.
OPERA asks the user around 10 questions about their family’s history before giving them a personalised assessment of their risk, including further information and support. Anyone can use OPERA in the comfort of their own home.
“Once I completed OPERA I was actually reassured to find that due to other current factors in my life, I was not at this time at any more at risk than any other woman. I found OPERA to be a valuable tool which helped me weigh everything up.”
For many people, the tool will provide reassurance, as having a faulty cancer gene isn’t as common as people think. But for others, it will provide them with the confidence and information they need to discuss their risk with their GP.
“I was given confidence from my OPERA results to ask for the referral I received.”
OPERA is the only tool of its kind and it can help a person understand more about their risk. It has helped people to have confident and well-informed conversations about their genetic risk with health professionals. This may lead to genetic counselling, earlier screening or risk-reducing treatments for some women.
So, for anyone who could be worried about hereditary ovarian or breast cancer, please refer them to macmillan.org.uk/opera
For any other questions or concerns about cancer genetics, call our cancer support specialists on 0808 808 00 00, Mon–Fri, 9am–8pm.
This article has been contributed by Macmillan Cancer Support, a PiF Partner