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Faulty gene found to increase ovarian cancer risk


The likelihood of developing ovarian cancer is greatly enhanced by a faulty gene, scientists have discovered.

The RAD51D gene can raise the risk of the disease six-fold, giving a woman more than a one in 11 chance of developing the cancer.

Cancer Research UK said it was a “landmark” discovery, with researchers stating that the findings pave the way for an early diagnostic test which could be available within two years.

Women with the faulty gene should benefit from a new class of anti-cancer drug, experts at the Institute of Cancer Research in London said.

The drugs, called PARP inhibitors, are undergoing clinical trials. They work by targeting BRCA 1 and 2 ovarian and breast cancer genes. Other genes have also been found to contribute to the disease, but not to the same extent as the RAD51D gene.

Quoted in the journal Nature Genetics, study author Professor Nazneen Rahman, head of the division of genetics and epidemiology at the Institute of Cancer Research in London, said: “We are very excited by this discovery. We’re now entering a new era of gene sequencing and it’s quite clear that we’re going to find a lot more genes like this in the future.”



Readers' comments (2)

  • This is excellent news. Too man women are dying too young from ovarian cancer which is difficult to detect until it is usually too late. Both my paternal grandmother and paternal aunt died from ovarian cancer. Because they were both elderly I was told that I was not a candidate for genetic screening. There have also been incidences of breast cancer on both sides of the family and bowel cancer on the paternal side (not all elderly). Does anyone know whether I can be screened privately for the ovarian cancer gene? Thank you.

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  • In response to the above comment to have recognised genetic test a relative with ovarian/breast cancer would need to be screened first to identify a gene mutation. If found then a predictive gene test could be offered to herself. No respectable genetic centre would offer a gene test on a non diagnosed patient first. It is not possible to identify a gene mutation in this way + expensive if done privately with an unreliable outcome. Nurse specialist in cancer genetics

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