Eighty per cent of Australian women would consider surgically removing their ovaries to reduce their risk of ovarian cancer, if they were found to be carrying the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations, which increases their risk of the disease.
The study, commissioned by Ovarian Cancer Australia, also found that if a family member tested positive for the BRCA gene mutation, more than 75 per cent of women would want to know and would consider preventative surgery.
This World Ovarian Cancer Day (8 May), which is also Mother’s Day, Ovarian Cancer Australia is urging women to #KnowAskAct: know the symptoms, the genetic risks, statistics, other women’s stories, and how you can help; ask if you have a family history of the disease, your doctor about your risk, testing and symptoms; and act on your family history, doctor’s diagnosis, or genetic test results, by sharing information to empower the next generation of women – and by donating.
“With no screening test for ovarian cancer, it’s important for women to know their family history, and to know the signs and symptoms of this deadly disease,” said Jane Hill, CEO of Ovarian Cancer Australia.
“By asking a member of your family about any history of ovarian or breast cancer, on both your mother and father’s sides, you can find out your risk.”
Almost 20 per cent of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer carry one or both of the BRCA mutations. Women carrying the BRCA1 gene mutation have up to a 59 per cent increased risk of developing the disease and those carrying the BRCA2 mutation up to an 18 per cent increase.
This World Ovarian Cancer Day, Ovarian Cancer Australia urges women to take charge of their health and #KnowAskAct.
“If women find out that they have a family history of ovarian cancer, they should talk to their GP about assessing their risk. Their GP may then discuss the possibility and implications of genetic testing and refer them to a Familial Cancer Centre if appropriate,” Ms Hill said.
Women who test positive for the BRCA gene mutation will not necessarily develop ovarian cancer, but will have an increased risk of developing the disease later in life.
“Knowing your family history will help you make decisions about which steps to take, such as genetic testing, genetic counselling and the possibility of preventative surgery,” Ms Hill said.