Australian women with a family history of breast and/or ovarian cancer will soon be able to undergo genetic testing to see if they carry any of the genetic mutations often connected to the diseases. These tests will be able to show whether or not there is a higher risk of developing one of the deadly diseases in the future, and will be available for free from the 1st of November.
Breast and ovarian cancers in women are more likely to be hereditary, and are the most common cancers in Australian women. The genetic tests will be listed on the Medicare Benefits Schedule and will also provide an estimate of their risk to developing a new primary cancer. If the test shows up with a link to breast and/or ovarian cancer, this can make a significant difference in the prevention of the disease.
What mutations cause breast and ovarian cancer?
Women with the BRCA1 mutation have a 72% chance of developing breast cancer before they are 80, and women with the BRCA2 mutation have 69% chance. If the woman has relatives who have developed breast cancer at some point in their lives, the risk for developing the disease could be higher. While ovarian cancer is far less common than breast cancer, it is also estimated that women carrying the BRCA1 mutation face a 40% risk of developing the disease at some point in their life, while those inheriting the BRCA2 gene have a 10-15% chance. Carriers of the BRCA genes will have additional treatment and management options available to them.
This genetic testing will answer questions for women who may be worried if they’re at a higher risk for developing the cancers. From there, they can decide to take preventative measures such as a preventative double mastectomy.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer with Australian women, but men can be affected, too. An estimated 3000 men and women are expected to pass away from the disease in 2017 alone.
The genetic testing makes a huge difference in the health and well-being of many Australian women – available for free from the 1st of November.