Lack of Genetic Testing in Ovarian Cancer Due to Slow Changes in Healthcare, Writer Says

Lack of Genetic Testing in Ovarian Cancer Due to Slow Changes in Healthcare, Writer Says
A blog post by Emma Smith at Cancer Research UK asks why all women diagnosed with ovarian cancer aren't being genetically tested for mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes — a simple procedure that could optimize treatment and prevent cancer in family members. The post, titled “All women with ovarian cancer should be offered genetic testing – so why aren’t they?” finds plenty of arguments in favor of testing women who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer, but not nearly as many reasons why genetic tests still aren't part of routine testing at many cancer clinics. Although mutations in the two BRCA genes are mainly linked to breast cancer, they also ramp up the risk for ovarian and uterus cancer. The genes are normally involved in repairing damaged DNA, and when they don’t work, mutations leading to cancer can easily accumulate. Although these mutations also make cancers more sensitive to chemotherapy, many tumors develop a resistance to treatment over time. Fortunately, a group of drugs called PARP inhibitors work well in these types of cancers. Smith points out that last year, England's National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommended the PARP inhibitor Lynparza (olaparib) as a treatment for women with ovarian cancer caused by mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes. The drug was also approved in the U.S. for this type of ovarian cancer in 2014. What the blog post emphasizes, however, is that even though Lynparza is available for this type of ovarian cancer -- and won't work in cancer without the genetic mutation -- many clinics still don't offer patients genetic tests on a regular basis. As a result, physicians have no way of knowing which patients would benefit from a specific treatment. But genetic testing has benefi
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