You are probably aware of genetic testing as a way of discovering or confirming your family's geographic or ethnic heritage: "Where are my great grandparents really from?" Gene testing may also be employed to discover a possible predisposition to a variety of diseases, including ovarian cancer (OC). Many forms of cancer may be genetically inherited, and in the case of ovarian cancer, early detection is by far the greatest weapon in combating this terrible disease.
With this in mind, recent advances in genetic, or DNA testing, in conjunction with your family history, may make it possible to predict whether you or a loved one has a predisposition to not only OC, but other forms of cancer as well.
Please discuss genetic testing with your doctor, particularly if there is a history of cancer in your family. Your doctor may be able to help you navigate early detection and to suggest what warning signs to look for based on the results of these tests. Many of us ignore the earliest warnings that our bodies attempt to give us when something is not quite right, particularly if the early discomfort caused by OC is not mainifested as pain, illness or obvious changes in a variety of aspects of our health.
This was the case with Andrea's form of ovarian cancer and when she began to feel uncomfortable with her slightly swollen abdomen and the fluid buildup in her lower legs, her undiagnosed cancer was already quite advanced. Andrea was tested for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes after her OC diagnoses and the BRCA mutations were not present. This simply illustrates that gene testing and family history are not the only ways to discover the presence of cancer, but please be proactive in its early detection and use all the tools available.
In the coming months I hope to add additional information about established genetic testing companies that may make it easier for you to have a dialog with your doctor and to help you gain knowledge about a possible predisposition to OC. The cost for genetic testing can be minimal. Many testing companies charge as little $250 for testing and analysis and in some cases this may be covered by insurance. Please do a simple online search for "Gene testing for predisposition of ovarian cancer" or visit the NOCC website for more comprehensive information: http://ovarian.org/about-ovarian-cancer/am-i-at-risk/do-i-have-a-genetic-predisposition
Please take the NOCC quiz as well: http://ovarian.org/about-ovarian-cancer/am-i-at-risk/hereditary-cancer-quiz
- Bart Harris
Andrea's Hope Foundation's website is not meant to take the place of a healthcare provider's examination, diagnosis, prognosis, or treatment referrals, but rather to encourage women to be aware of their health status and to seek medical care from their physicians and healthcare institutions. Andrea's Hope Foundation is a charitable organization dedicated to raising and providing funds for ovarian cancer research and education and for making hospice and other end-of-life care more affordable.