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Preventive Screening for Ovarian Cancer: A Genetic Profile Is The Most Reliable Risk Predictor

150 150 Shefali Sabharanjak

Ovarian cancer is the fifth most lethal cancer of women, in USA and UK. In India, however, it is the third most lethal cancer in women. What is most worrisome is that an increase in the incidence of ovarian cancer in India is noted in women younger than 60 years of age. While ovarian cancer typically develops in Caucasian women in their sixties, a younger slice of the population – ages 35-55 – is affected by this aggressive cancer in India. Another issue with this particular cancer is that the overall survival rate is only 30% for stage III tumors and 15% for stage IV tumors. In India, most cases of ovarian cancer are detected in stages III and IV.

Periodic screening for symptoms of any disease, cancer or otherwise, is the best approach for catching it early. Yet, this old jungle saying does not work very well for catching ovarian cancer early enough. For starters, the symptoms of ovarian cancer – bloating, difficulty in eating, feeling full and feeling the need to use the bathroom often – are generic enough to lead to a diagnosis of several health problems.  Secondly, Transvaginal ultrasound imaging and monitoring the level of CA-125 protein in the blood have been considered as optimal screening tests for detection of ovarian cancer so far.

However, the latest update published by the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) states that screening for ovarian cancer by CA-125 levels is not of high predictive value. Screening women with symptoms to understand their levels of CA-125 protein in blood, is not a useful strategy for fixing their risk for development of ovarian cancer. This means that a lot of women who get identified as high-risk ovarian cancer individuals by these tests are actually not at risk. You can read the complete update here: https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/Announcements/News/Item/public-comment-on-draft-recommendation-statement-and-draft-evidence-review-screening-for-ovarian-cancer

So, what would work as a good screening test?

The answer is ad hoc genetic screening for presence of mutations that increase a woman’s risk for developing ovarian cancer.

In India, the prevalence of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC) is higher than that seen in the West. So, screening for the presence of genes involved in this hereditary syndrome is one strategy that can assess risk, far more accurately.

In addition, there are other hereditary syndromes, like Lynch Syndrome and Li-Fraumeni Syndrome, which can result in the development of ovarian cancer. There are genetic tests available to understand whether genes involved in these syndromes are also present in a person.

Strand has one comprehensive test, designed to check for the presence of genes relevant in hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC), Lynch and Li-Fraumeni Syndromes, and other hereditary cancer syndromes. This is the Strand Germline Cancer Test – A single test to check for  7-8  hereditary cancer syndromes.

Our economical germline test can give you peace of mind for a small sum of Rs. 20,000. We also offer two FREE genetic counselling sessions to explain the tests and the results once they are available.

How do you take the test? All you need to do is provide us a saliva sample. Easy-peasy! We even have a video tutorial for that!

Do call us at 1800-1022-695 to know more about preventive genetic testing for hereditary cancers. You can also get regular updates on Facebook, sign up for our regular newsletter myStrand, and write to us at strandlive@strandls.com with any questions.

AUTHOR

Shefali Sabharanjak

All stories by: Shefali Sabharanjak