Target Ovarian Cancer is funding a study at Cambridge University, to test women who have been impacted by ovarian cancer to see whether they actually are carrying mutations in their BRCA 1 and 2 genes.
If you carry a mutation in one of these genes, it dramatically increases your risk of both
ovarian cancer and breast cancer. The potential impact of this project really
is quite exciting, because it may help influence treatment choices for the women concerned, but also crucially identify family members who could be at risk allow them access to genetic counselling, so this is a very exciting and important piece of work. In terms of what makes this study unique is that we’re really trying to integrate the rapid genetic testing with the psychosocial support side to try and find the best way forward in terms of supporting women. We work very closely together with genetic
counsellors to provide information and support to women and their families.
And sometimes these issues can be difficult to deal with within families and therefore
it’s important that we deal with the psychological aspects of genetic testing as well as the
technological aspects. What we do is take the white cells out of
the blood and we look at the DNA, which is the actual genetic material in the white cells and we look at the two genes and we read the genetic code in those genes to see if we can find a spelling mistake – which we call a mutation. So this is a very exciting time, because we are using new ways of genetic testing that
have been developed over the last few years, that are massively increasing the amount of
power we have in our genetics, in terms of the costs of doing the tests, which is going
down dramatically, the speed at which we’re doing it is going down, and the power we have to detect mutations is increasing. And we know that by finding a gene mutation and offering testing to the wider family we will prevent cancers from happening, which
is so reassuring. Big changes are happening in technology, genetic screening is being rolled out. It’s important we understand that this is acceptable and
how best to do this, and influence practice with evidence. Without clinical trials, and this piece of research funded by Target Ovarian Cancer,
we will not be able to translate science into better treatments and improvements of quality
of life for women living with ovarian cancer.