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New female cancer gene found

Monday August 8th, 2011

British researchers have found a gene responsible for about one in a hundred cases of ovarian cancer, it was announced yesterday.

Faults in the gene, RAD51D, are so closely linked to cancer that women who carry them may be advised to have their ovaries removed once they have finished having children, experts said.

The research, reported last night, found that women who carry the gene fault have a one in 11 chance of developing cancer of the ovaries. This compares with a normal risk of one in 70.

Scientists at the Institute of Cancer Research, London, compared DNA from more than 900 women from families afflicted with breast and ovarian cancer with another 1,000 women.

The research, reported in Nature Genetics, pin-pointed eight genetic faults that are found in women who develop cancer.

The researchers say treatments may already be available for women who have these genes. These Parp inhibitors are already being tested for other genetic cancers that affect women.

Researcher Professor Nazneen Rahman said: "At this level of risk, women may wish to consider having their ovaries removed after having children, to prevent ovarian cancer occurring.

“There is also real hope on the horizon that drugs specifically targeted to the gene will be available.”

Harpal Kumar, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said: “This landmark discovery is another piece of the jigsaw deepening our understanding of the disease.

"We hope this will have a significant impact in providing more personalised treatments for patients based on their genetic make-up, saving more lives from ovarian cancer."

Germline mutations in RAD51D confer susceptibility to ovarian cancer. Chey Loveday et al. Nature Genetics August 7 2011

Tags: Cancer | Genetics | UK News | Women’s Health & Gynaecology

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