Apart from being an actress, Angelina Jolie has become famous on the medical front too! Even a gene has been named after her- the ‘Angelina Jolie gene’. This Hollywood actress had her breast, ovaries and fallopian tubes removed due to her high cancer risk acquired from her mom who died at a young age due to ovarian cancer. Also, it has been researched that fathers can pass the gene for ovarian cancer to their daughters. Research details are briefed at www.firsteatright.com.
Screening every woman above the age of 30 for these cancer risks can help prevent cancer and save more lives. Mass screening of individuals would be cost-effective too. While the idea is solid and convincing, we are not yet conclusive about how the test can be done on so many individuals and how treatment/counselling can be offered to the affected women.
All About the BRCA Gene
Every individual has two copies of the BRCA genes, one from each parent. These genes help repair damaged cells and prevents them from growing and dividing rapidly. Mutations in these genes can lead to abnormal cell growth and increase the risk of cancer.
Generally, a woman is at a 2% risk of developing ovarian cancer in her lifetime and a BRCA mutation can increase the cancer risk anywhere between 10% and 60%. Also, women are at a 12.5% risk of getting breast cancer in their lifetime and this risk is tremendously increased anywhere between 45% and 90% with BRCA mutations.
The impact this study could have on the healthcare industry in the future is exciting and worth the effort. But, testing for a faulty gene as a precautionary measure is like inviting problems on your own and can turn the life of the woman tested and her family members into a total chaos.
We also need to remember one thing- the presence of a mutation does not confirm the presence of cancer. This BRCA gene is not responsible for most of the breast/ovarian cancer cases.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.