1 February 2018

Genetic testing call for women with ovarian cancer

Cancer Genetics Women

Women with invasive epithelial ovarian cancer should be encouraged to take advantage of Medicare-funded genetic tests, Cancer Australia has said.

All women diagnosed with invasive epithelial ovarian cancer should be offered genetic testing, regardless of their age or family history, according to Cancer Australia’s new position statement.

“BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations are the most common gene faults associated with breast and ovarian cancer,” Cancer Australia’s CEO, Dr Helen Zorbas, said.

“We know that women with ovarian cancer who are found to carry these gene mutations could benefit more from certain types of targeted therapies. So, it is very important that eligible women are offered genetic risk assessment and genetic testing.”

Medicare has been funding genetic testing for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations in women with breast and ovarian cancer since November last year.

The genetic test was also funded for relevant family members of women who were found to have a gene fault, Dr Zorbas said.

Around two in five women with ovarian cancer and a family history of breast or ovarian cancer have gene faults.

Ovarian cancer is the most common cause of gynaecological cancer death in Australia. Around 30 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer every week, with those diagnosed having a 44% chance of surviving for five years.

Cancer Australia’s position statement was endorsed by a number of relevant associations, including the Australian Society of Gynaecologic Oncologists.