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Women who have a family history of ovarian cancer may want to consider cancer testing to determine their individual risk. A new study has found that the disease may be caused by a genetic variant that is passed along through succeeding generations.
A team of researchers from Yale University used blood tests on a group of patients being treated for ovarian cancer to look for genetic biomarkers. They found that 25 percent of these patients had a mutation in a certain gene. A total of 60 percent of those with a family history of cancer had the mutation.
"For many women out there with a strong family history of ovarian cancer who previously have had no identified genetic cause for their family's disease; this might be it for them," said Joanne B. Weidhaas, researcher for the Yale Cancer Center and co-senior author of the study. "Our findings support that the [genetic] variant is a new genetic marker of ovarian cancer risk."
Ovarian cancer is particularly difficult to detect until it has advanced to a late stage. This often makes the disease deadly. However, Weidhaas said that identifying individuals who are at a higher risk could improve survival rates.
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