Gene link fear in ovarian cancer

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The Independent Online
WOMEN WITH genes predisposing them to breast cancer are also ten times more likely to get ovarian cancer, says a study.

Myriad Genetics, the US firm which owns the patents for tests for the "breast cancer genes" BRCA1 and BRCA2, say the results from their survey of 238 women provide "clear guidelines to help doctors identify patients who should be evaluated for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer".

British experts have suggested Myriad's numbers may be exaggerated. The company charges about pounds 400 for each BRCA1 test, and would benefit hugely from widespread testing in the US and UK.

"This is a research area, not one for clinical medicine yet," said Professor Gordon McVie, director of the Cancer Research Campaign (CRC).

Myriad suggest "all women with breast cancer under age 50, and any woman with a history of breast or ovarian cancer in a close relative, should be tested". In the UK alone that would involve thousands of tests. An estimated 125,000 women in Britain have either the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene.

"We would recommend women who are concerned about the possibility that they are carrying either gene to get their doctor to recommend them for testing at a regional genetic testing centre," said Professor McVie.