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Women over-30 should be tested for cancer gene mutations - study

19 January 2018 09:14

Women over-30 should be tested

Women over-30 should be tested

According to new research, all British woman over the age of 30 should be tested for breast and ovarian cancer gene mutations to help save lives and cut costs.

Researchers from the Barts Cancer Institute at Queen Mary University of London say screening the entire population, rather than just those at high risk of carrying the BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations, would be more cost effective and help prevent more cancers.

'Faulty genes'

Actress Angelina Jolie is among the women who carry the "faulty" BRCA1 gene, which increases the risk of developing breast cancer or ovarian cancer.

In 2013 the actress had a double mastectomy to reduce her higher chances of developing breast cancer.

Researchers now believe that by developing a programme in which all women over 30 are tested for the gene, up to 17,000 fewer ovarian and 64,000 fewer breast cancer cases could be recorded.

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' Many lives' saved

Dr Ranjit Manchada, consultant gynaecological oncologist at Barts Cancer Institute, said: "This [programme] could prevent thousands more breast and ovarian cancers than any current strategy, saving many lives.

"With the costs of testing falling, this approach can ensure that more women can take preventative action to reduce their risk or undertake regular screening."

Carriers of either gene have a 17%-44% chance of developing ovarian cancer and a 69%-72% chance of developing breast cancer over their lifetime.

For women who do not have the genes, the risk drops to just 2% for ovarian cancer and 12% for breast cancer.

The programme is considered "an exciting step forward in prevention," according to chief executive of cancer research charity The Eve Appeal, Athena Lamnisos.