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Posted by Target Ovarian Cancer on Monday 16 May 2016

Target Ovarian Cancer has funded groundbreaking research into genetic testing, which has now been published in the prestigious Journal of Medical Genetics. We are committed to funding groundbreaking projects which will impact the lives of people touched by ovarian cancer now and in the future. And thanks to the support of fundraisers, trusts and legacies we can back the work of amazing scientists and researchers across the UK.

Dr Marc Tischkowitz at the University of Cambridge ran the Genetic Testing in Epithelial Ovarian Cancer (GTEOC) trial. The researchers’ aim was to look at the acceptability, feasibility and cost effectiveness of different models of genetic testing and counselling, including a more streamlined process – while maintaining the oversight of specialist genetic services. This kind of research is vital now that all women with ovarian cancer should be elegible for genetic testing.

Many women diagnosed with epithelial ovarian cancer (the most common type) do not access genetic testing for BRCA1 and 2 mutations, often because of a lack of awareness or complications in the process of referring someone for testing. However, because up to 20 per cent of cases of ovarian cancer can be hereditary and run in families, availability of genetic testing and counselling to all women diagnosed with the disease is essential.

The BRCA1 and 2 mutations increase an individual’s risk of ovarian and breast cancer, and can be passed through both the mother's and the father’s side. Testing women who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer for gene mutations will allow other family members to seek vital help and information sooner rather than later. Genetic testing will also be essential with the advent of personalised medicine. With this increased demand for testing, it is vital that women have access to qualified genetic counselling – and in a way that is affordable to the NHS.

The GTEOC study showed that a streamlined approach led by oncology and coordinated by genetic services was an acceptable, cost-effective process. Crucially, women diagnosed with ovarian cancer were happy with the way the testing was carried out.

This means that the trial has offered a new approach to genetic testing in the UK, the recommendations from which have already been rolled out to benefit women with ovarian cancer across East Anglia.

Dr Marc Tischkowitz said: “Genetic testing is the key way to prevent ovarian cancer in families with a hereditary predisposition. This study shows that BRCA1/BRCA2 testing can be made widely available to women with ovarian cancer in an acceptable, timely and cost efficient way by using the existing comprehensive network of NHS genetics centres in the UK in conjunction with local oncology services.”

Chief Executive of Target Ovarian Cancer, Annwen Jones, said: “Target Ovarian Cancer awarded the funding to allow this landmark clinical trial to go ahead in 2012. We are pleased to see the results being rolled out and having an impact on day-to-day practice so quickly. Ground-breaking research such as this is only possible thanks to the funding we receive from individuals, trusts and legacies. With so much opportunity to improve survival and quality of life for women with ovarian cancer, it is vital that we raise much-needed funds for medical research.”

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