Study Points to Lack of Awareness on the BRCA-Ovarian Cancer Relation

75 percent of those at high risk for BRCA mutations have no idea they may have increased chance of ovarian cancer, drawing attention to the importance of genetic counseling.

Any woman who’s watched her mother or sister struggle with breast cancer knows that she’s likely at high risk for the disease herself. But what she probably doesn’t realize is that she may have an increased chance of ovarian cancer as well, according to a new study by Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center scientists.

In an analysis of nearly 1,900 Seattle-area women with family histories that could suggest dangerous BRCA1 or BRCA2 genetic mutations that raise cancer risk, nearly two-thirds of those surveyed knew they should be worried about breast cancer — but more than 75 percent had no idea they should be concerned about ovarian cancer as well.

Those were startling findings to Dr. Robyn Andersen, an expert in ovarian cancer symptoms and screening in Fred Hutch’s Public Health Sciences division. She found that in the more than 15 years since BRCA testing has been available, awareness among high-risk women of ovarian cancer hadn’t budged, even though the American Cancer Society estimates the disease will be diagnosed in nearly 22,000 U.S women this year and will kill more than 14,000.

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Source: Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center