I recently attended the first meeting of our new GP Advisory Board. I sat with leading GPs from across the country all with one thing on their minds: improving outcomes for women diagnosed with, or at risk of, ovarian cancer. Chaired by Professor Nigel Sparrow GP, National Adviser for Primary Care at the Care Quality Commission, I was impressed not only by the level and range of expertise represented on the Board but also by the strength of their commitment to the cause.
Earlier diagnosis of ovarian cancer is, and has always been, one of our top priorities at Target Ovarian Cancer, which is why we have chosen to invest heavily in specialist training to help GPs spot the signs more quickly and refer for appropriate tests. With the backing of our GP Advisory Board, we will be able to make an even greater impact: reducing delays in diagnosis and increasing awareness of familial risk.
New online learning module
So, you can imagine how pleased we are to announce the launch of our new online learning module for GPs - The Family History of Ovarian Cancer - developed in association with Pulse Learning, to help GPs update their understanding of familial ovarian cancer and the link with familial breast cancer.
In the UK over a thousand women each year develop ovarian cancer because they have inherited ‘faulty’ genes. However, the Target Ovarian Cancer Pathfinder Study found that 90% of GPs are unaware that these ‘faulty’ genes can be passed through the father’s side as well as through the mother’s side of the family. So when it comes to family history of ovarian cancer, men do matter!
The Family History of Ovarian Cancer is an important step in ensuring that GPs ask patients about their full family history i.e. on both sides of their family in order to assess risk and make appropriate and potentially life-saving referrals for genetic counselling and testing.
University of Cambridge study
We’re also funding a study at the University of Cambridge to investigate the feasibility and acceptability of testing all women with a recent diagnosis of ovarian cancer for these ‘faulty’ inherited genes. Not only will this identify those women who may benefit in future from targeted treatments, such as Parp inhibitors; it will also help identify other family members who may be at risk of developing ovarian cancer.
David Lammy MP [pay wall] gave a powerful interview about how his family had been affected by ovarian cancer to The Times newspaper back in March. David’s mother and grandmother died from ovarian cancer, and his sister has since been tested positive for one of the ‘faulty’ BRCA genes. He's currently waiting on his own test results.
It’s vital that women and health professionals are aware of the familial risk of breast and ovarian cancer – especially the fact that it can be passed down the father’s side. And we want all women at risk to be given access to genetic counselling and testing so that they may consider what steps they can take to help substantially reduce their risk.
Annwen Jones, Chief Executive of Target Ovarian Cancer
For more information about The Family History of Ovarian Cancer CPD tool or any of Target Ovarian Cancer’s other CDP tools visit this page.
Photo: David Lammy MP with his mum, Rose, who died from her ovarian cancer in March 2008.