SCIENTISTS have discovered the key to better treatment and earlier diagnosis of ovarian cancer, identifying 12 new genes which can increase the risk of developing the deadly disease.
The research, published in prestigious journal Nature Genetics today, involved the biggest study of ovarian cancer genetics ever conducted.
It is now hoped the breakthrough will enable individual risk profiles to be developed, arming women with more information to decide whether or not to have preventive surgery because of their genetics.
The research doubles the number of genes linked to the so-called “silent killer”, which claims the lives of about 1000 Australian women every year.
It builds on earlier discoveries, such as the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, made famous by Angelina Jolie who went public with her decision to have a double mastectomy after being diagnosed with a BRCA gene mutation.
As part of the international collaboration between QIMR Berghofer and the Ovarian Cancer Association Consortium in the US, researchers sifted through the DNA of nearly 100,000 women.
QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute lead researcher Georgia Chenevix-Trench said the study had also confirmed ovarian cancer was not a single disease, with a number of subtypes identified.
“It will allow us eventually to get a much better understanding of the biology that drives ovarian cancers,” Professor Chenevix-Trench said.
“By understanding the biology hopefully we will be able to develop drugs that will actually tackle it at its root, or might prevent ovarian cancer, or might help in the treatment of it.”
Carolyn Wagner, 32, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer when she was just 11 years old and will this year celebrate 20 years of living cancer-free.
“Anything that is making it easier to detect and (raising) awareness, for people to know what to look for, it’s so important because there is not a lot out there about it,” she said.
“Ovarian cancer sort of goes under the radar a lot because it is so much harder (to detect).”
Online Source: The News