Break Out the Teal!

September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month!

According to the National Cancer Institute’s website 22,240 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2013. Approximately 11 – 15% of these diagnosed ovarian cancer cases are caused by mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes. That means that 1 in 7 women who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer have a BRCA mutation! When someone carries a mutation in either of these genes, they have a syndrome called Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer (HBOC) syndrome.

Ovarian Cancer

Early stage ovarian cancer symptoms may or may not be obvious and often are ignored due to their similarities with other conditions. You should always consult with a healthcare professional if you have any concerns about your health or are experiencing the following symptoms as described in the “What You Need to Know About: Ovarian Cancer” booklet from the National Cancer Institute:

  • Pressure or pain in your abdomen, pelvis, back or legs
  • A Swollen or bloated abdomen
  • Nausea, indigestion, gas, constipation, or diarrhea
  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling the need to urinate often
  • Unusual vaginal bleeding (heavy periods, or bleeding after menopause)


Time is Crucial! If you or someone you know is diagnosed with ovarian cancer, genetic testing is especially important because of the significance of the results for the patient and family. BRCA testing at the time of diagnosis will provide valuable information to patients and their families, reduce costs for family members, provide valuable clinical insight into future cancer risk, and can potentially identify patients for investigational treatment protocols (eg, PARP inhibitor therapy). One study reported that nearly 90% of ovarian cancer patients would want to have BRCA gene testing to let their family members know if there is an inherited gene mutation responsible for their cancer.

If you would like to learn more about your risk of Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer (HBOC) syndrome our online Hereditary Cancer Quiz can provide a fast and accurate assessment of your risk, along with a print-out that you can take to your health care provider to initiate the genetic testing conversation.