Breast Cancer’s Link to Ovarian Cancer
The genetic predisposition that affects many women with Breast cancer can also leave them at heightened risk for developing Ovarian cancer. Since Breast cancer awareness has taken off, women have become much more concerned with breast health and monitoring potential symptoms, however, ovarian health has yet to see the same response. This is possibly due to breast cancer being much more common and easier to detect, which typically prompts physicians or OB-GYNs to jump into action quickly. Many women won’t even know that they are also predisposed to Ovarian cancer if Breast cancer runs in their family, despite the fact it is a much more deadly disease.
BRCA1 and BRCA2 Genes
Mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA 2 genes, which are involved in DNA repair and growth, can result in Breast and/or Ovarian cancer. These mutations put both the woman and her future offspring at greater risk for developing these cancers. To put this in perspective, approximately 12% of all women will develop breast cancer in their lifetimes; 55-65% of women with the BRCA1 mutation will be develop breast cancer in their lifetimes; and approximately 45% of women with a BRCA2 mutation will develop breast cancer in their lifetimes. (NBCF)
Checking for Ovarian Cancer
If women are aware of ovarian cancer within their family history, a blood test may be recommended to detect a potential genetic predisposition to the disease. If needed, your doctor will conduct a pelvic exam in which they will look for symptoms such as enlarged ovaries or fluid in the abdomen (ascites). If any sign of cancer is suspected, additional blood work and various forms of imaging tests are often ordered. A gynecologic oncologist can determine if a mass is present through these tests, but a definitive diagnosis of ovarian cancer can only be determined once a pathologic sample is obtained, typically by means of surgery.
If you would like more information on breast health or our available imaging exams, please feel free to contact us. We would be happy to discuss any of your questions or concerns.