More than 14,000 women learn they have ovarian cancer each year, and despite recent advances in the treatment of the disease, the prognosis remains discouraging. For newly diagnosed patients, fewer than half will survive for five years or more, according to a 2017 Therapeutic Advances in Medical Oncology study.
Since ovarian cancer is such a deadly disease, prevention is vital. That’s where genetic testing and the BRCA genes come into play.
How do our genes impact cancer, again?
Your genetic code contains roughly 20,000 “protein coding” genes, which help direct the activity of every cell and molecule in your body, explains Michelle Lightfoot, MD, a gynecology oncology fellow at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center. The makeup of these coding genes can vary from person to person. And in some cases, these genes can harbor mutations or abnormalities that increase or decrease a person’s risk for disease, including cancer.
While some mutations occur spontaneously or in response to environmental damage (like air pollution), others are inherited. And it’s now well established that some mutations that affect the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genes can significantly increase a woman’s risk for ovarian cancer.
How significantly? Depending on the type of BRCA mutation a woman carries, her risk of developing ovarian cancer before age 80 could be as high as 44 percent—compared to the 1.3 percent lifetime risk among women who do not carry one of these mutations, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Even if you’ve spent time reading up on the BRCA genes and their role in ovarian cancer, the following bits of information may still surprise you.
Source : https://www.prevention.com/health/health-conditions/g24670099/brca-genes-ovarian-cancer/