A 51-year old woman was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Soon after, her two sisters were also diagnosed with the same cancer. According to medical experts, a certain genetic mutation is the culprit behind the sisters’ disease.

It was in July 2020 when a 51-year old woman was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at the Shanghai Cancer Center in Shanghai, China. A follow-up genetic test then revealed that the woman possesses a mutation of the BRCA1 gene.

According to Dr. Wu Xiaohua of the Cancer Center, mutations in the BRCA1 gene and BRCA2 genes are the most common culprits behind ovarian and breast cancers. In fact, over 20% of ovarian cancer cases are caused by either a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation.

Meanwhile, over 90% of familial genetic inheritance of breast and ovarian cancer is linked to these genes, which is why the medical experts from the Cancer Center recommended the patient’s entire family to undergo genetic testing for cancer predisposition. She has seven siblings, five of each were women.

One of her sisters, a 55-year old, was discovered to have an elevated cancer biomarker in July. In November, she went to Shanghai Cancer Center where she was officially diagnosed to have ovarian cancer.

Another sister, a 63-year old, also underwent a health screening in November, where she was found to have a lump in her pelvic cavity, which was later diagnosed as ovarian cancer.

The three sisters since then have undergone surgery and will undergo followup chemotherapy. According to Dr. Wu, ovarian cancer has no symptoms in its early stages and more than 70% of patients don’t receive an official diagnosis until the terminal stage, which decreases the survival rate and makes ovarian cancer the deadliest cancer for women.

However, increased awareness of the genetic factor of cancer as well as early screening will improve prevention and treatment. After the sisters received DNA screenings, this time, the nieces are also considering to do the same thing.


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