Grace Elizabeth | Global Awareness Ambassador

Gene Changes & Ovarian Cancer

BRCA Gene Mutations

The best known gene mutations linked to ovarian cancer are BRCA1 and BRCA2. BRCA is an abbreviation for “BReast CAncer gene.” Also known as “tumor suppressor genes”, they normally function in preventing cancer by creating proteins to help fix DNA that has been damaged. However, if they are damaged, or if they undergo certain changes or mutations, this can lead to cancer. Everyone has two copies of each gene, inhererited from each parent. If mutated versions of one of these genes are inherited, a person can be at risk for several types of cancers such as ovarian, breast, and prostate. BRCA gene mutations can also contribute to cancer development at a young age. Not all gene mutations are inherited from parents. Other genetic mutations can raise risk as well such as PALB2 ATM and PTEN. Learn more about these and more about how to identify your risk from our friends at FORCE.

Genetic Testing: What You Need to Know

When genetic changes or mutations occur within your cells those mutations may lead to the development of cancer. A person can inherit genetic mutations that increase their risk of developing hereditary cancers. Genetic testing is one way that you can learn about your inherited cancer risk. Genetic testing involves taking a sample of blood, saliva or tissue to search for gene variations associated with increased cancer risk. Getting tested can also help family members learn about their risk of ovarian cancer and other cancers. Before having genetic testings, you should talk with a genetic counselor. They help you decide how to use the results of the tests, including who to tell, who else should get tested and what risk reduction options may be right for you. To learn more about genetic testing, check out this article written in collaboration with our friends at Healthline.

Genetic Counseling

Getting genetic testing can show whether you have any gene mutations that may raise your risk of getting ovarian cancer. This testing can help you and your doctor understand your risk and decide on the best plan to address your risk. It can also help family members learn about their risk of ovarian cancer and other cancers. But before having this testing done, you should talk with a genetic counselor. Genetic counselors serve a crucial role in the genetic testing process. They help you understand what the results mean, help you decide how to use the results of the tests, including who to tell, who else should get tested and what risk reduction options may be right for you. To learn more about genetic counseling and how to access, read this article from our friends at FORCE.

Talking About Your Family History of Cancer

Ovarian cancer is sometimes part of an inherited cancer syndrome. You can inherit genetic mutations from both sides of your family tree. Knowing your family health history is one of the first steps to identifying your risk for hereditary cancers like ovarian.

Talk About It- Family Health History and Ovarian Cancer Tip Sheet

Want to get the conversation going but aren’t sure how to start? Check out this tip sheet!

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Our ‘Own Your Ovaries’ campaign provides information about ovarian cancer to individuals under the age of 35 through educational resources and stories about young people whose lives have been impacted by ovarian cancer.