Jan 22, 2016 11:26 AM EST
Scientists have discovered a potential way to detect ovarian cancer. Study found that a gene mutation carried by woman could be a possible marker for the disease.
In the newly published study, researchers discovered that a gene called BRIP1 can potentially increase a woman's chances of acquiring ovarian cancer by about 5 percent. Although it seems small, this is almost threefold higher than the 1.8 percent risks that other types of cancer poses.
The study recruited over 8,000 women and obtained their genes on DNA samples. Of these, 3,236 have acquired ovarian cancer, 3,431 do not have cancer and 2,000 do not have cancer but has a familial background of ovarian cancer.
Researchers analyzed four various genes, namely, BRIP1, BARD1, PALB2 and NBN, which have previously been linked to increase the risk for cancer. Results revealed that BRIP1 mutations have a greater risk for ovarian cancer, but the other three genes were indefinite.
Conventionally, statistics reveal that 18 in every 1000 women develop ovarian cancer in their lifetime. But the mutated BRIP1 gene's presence increases the number to 58.
Professor Paul Pharoah, cancer epidemiology professor at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, said that their current discovery is a valuable piece of the puzzle. The team hopes this will soon become a genetic test to detect women at higher risk and thereby save lives.
Ovarian cancer is usually detected at a later stage where it has already become worse; however, when detected at an earlier phase, chances of survival increases and treatment might be effective. Unfortunately, most women are asymptomatic or only manifest mild symptoms, making them less likely to visit physicians for consultations.
Based on the National Cancer Institute, ovarian cancer affects almost 3 percent of all types of cancer. In the USA and UK, ovarian cancer accounts for 13,000 and 5,000 deaths, respectively.