The genetic prediction of risk for gynecologic cancers Ovarian Cancer and Us OVARIAN CANCER and US Ovarian Cancer and Us

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Monday, March 28, 2016

The genetic prediction of risk for gynecologic cancers


  • precision medicine;
  • ovarian cancer;
  • uterine cancer;
  • BRCA;
  • Lynch syndrome;
  • risk-reduction


Hereditary cancer syndromes are an important precision medicine opportunity.
Homologous recombination mutations including BRCA contribute to ovarian cancer.
DNA mismatch repair defects increase risk for both ovarian and uterine cancers.
Risks can be significantly reduced with prophylactic surgery or surveillance.
These mutations can predict response to novel molecular therapies.


Salient to the intent of personalized medicine, hereditary cancer syndromes present significant opportunities in the treatment and prevention of some gynecologic cancers. Mutations in BRCA1, BRCA2, and DNA mismatch repair genes: MLH1, MSH2, MSH6, and PMS2 are important causal agents in hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC) and Lynch syndromes. Though they only account for an estimated 10-18% of ovarian, tubal, peritoneal, and endometrial cancer cases, inherited cancers are imminently preventable if mutation carriers are identified in a timely manner. Population level screening is currently impractical due to low prevalence of disease, cost of testing, and ethical issues associated with testing, so diagnosis of these mutations is limited. Being affected by one of the heritable gynecologic malignancies is a logical entry point into the genetic counseling and testing pipeline for the patient and her family members. Thus, gynecologic cancer providers are uniquely positioned to diagnose germline mutations that can inform prognosis and treatment for their patients in addition to enabling prevention for patients’ cancer-unaffected blood relatives, or “previvors”. The purpose of this review is to describe our current perspective on testing for and implications of heritable cancer syndromes in the women with ovarian, tubal, peritoneal, and endometrial cancers.


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