• 14Mar

    Online self-assessment tool for those worried about genetic cancer risk

    Macmillan Cancer Support has an interactive online tool called OPERA that can help people worried about their risk of breast and ovarian cancer. Many people worry that their risk of getting cancer is above average because of their family history. There are often stories in the media about the BRCA genes – the genes linked to hereditary breast and ovarian cancer – and March is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. So you may be talking to more people worried about their 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. OPERA is based on guidance on familial breast cancer from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).

    So, for anyone who could be worried about hereditary breast or ovarian cancer, please refer them to macmillan.org.uk/opera

    Macmillan also has lots of online information about genetics. Or you can order free publications from be.macmillan.org.uk, including a cancer genetics booklet and some leaflets about hereditary breast, ovarian, bowel and prostate cancer.

    Contact ahowse@macmillan.org.uk for more information.