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Editors' Blog

Posted by Cass - 07 March 2014

Angelina Jolie and the Missing Link

Angelina Jolie's decision to undergo a double mastectomy last year as a carrier of the faulty BRCA gene mutation (which can lead to both breast and ovarian cancer) may have put the issue in the spotlight; however a new report shows it has had little impact on the number of women with a family history being genetically tested.

The study by medical research charity Ovarian Cancer Action to mark Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month (March) shows that while almost 90% of women are aware of the Angelina story, and more than 90% understood her decision to undergo the double mastectomy, only one in ten were then prompted by it to look into their own family history of breast or ovarian cancer. Of those that did look into their family history, only 2% had a genetic test for the BRCA gene mutation, while a third found it difficult to find out information about their family's history of ovarian and breast cancer.

A family history of breast and/or ovarian cancer may indicate that there is the presence of a BRCA1/2 mutation, which increases the risk of getting ovarian cancer from 1 in 54 to 1 in 2. The message for ALL women, especially those with a significant family history of either breast and/or ovarian cancer, is to be €˜BRCA aware' by checking out their family medical history. It could save their life.

To mark Awareness Month, Ovarian Cancer Action has launched its BRCA Risk Tool €“ an online risk calculator at www.ovarian.org.uk - designed to help people make more informed choices about whether BRCA1/2 testing should be considered.

Known as the most deadly gynecological cancers - ovarian cancer kills 1 woman every 2 hours here in the UK and with 7,000 new UK diagnoses each year. A shocking 32% of ovarian cancer patients in the UK are diagnosed each year through an emergency route.

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