What is breast and ovarian cancer
Breast cancer is the term given to the abnormal division of cells within the breast. It is the most common cancer in the UK, with approximately 55,000 women and 400 men being diagnosed each year. According to NHS studies, one in every ten women will develop breast cancer within their lifetime.
Ovarian cancer is often related to breast cancer as it is believed that both are the result of a similar mutation in the genes. Ovarian cancer is caused by the reproduction of cells within one or both ovaries, forming a tumour. Though the exact cause is unknown, factors such as oestrogen production and its effect on ovulation is thought to play an important role.
Breast and ovarian cancer is attributed to a mutation in the BRCA genes (Breast Cancer Genes)
Like all other cancers, breast and ovarian cancer is attributed to a mutation in the genes, particularly the BRCA genes (Breast Cancer Genes). A mutation in the TP53 genes is also known to result in a higher than average risk of developing breast cancer, however, this mutation is much rarer.
The BRCA genes (BRCA 1 and BRCA 2) play a vital role in the stability of genetic cells particularly in aiding in repairing damaged DNA and in the production of tumour suppressor proteins, which control cell growth. A mutation in a tumour suppressor gene therefore means that cells will begin to reproduce at a rapid rate.
For breast or ovarian cancer to occur, mutated cells begin to grow in number and form a lump or a tumour
These tumours can either be benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Most tumours are benign. Benign tumours which include cavities filled with fluid (cysts) or clusters of connective tissues, only grow in the area in which they develop and do not directly endanger an individual’s life. If malignant, the cells will begin to move into the lymphatic system via the lymph nodes located under the armpit. The lymphatic system connects the different parts of the body through the blood, thereby allowing the cancerous cells to spread around the body.
One of the first symptoms of breast cancer is a tumour in the breast
The tumour may distort the shape of the breast and change its boundaries. In many cases there will be heightened sensitivity in the breast and a rash. Some types of tumours also feature a milky or bloody discharge from the nipple.
Most women who have ovarian cancer do not have any symptoms. However, when symptoms do develop these typically include loss of appetite, unexplained weight gain, swelling and or pain in the lower abdomen, lower back pain and pain during sex.
There are different types of breast cancer
Types of breast cancer include: invasive breast cancer (cancer cells spread outside the lining of ducts or lobes into breast tissues), ductal carcinoma in situ (cancer cells contained in the ducts and not spread), lobular carcinoma in situ (changes in the cells which increase the risk of breast cancer later in life) or inflammatory breast cancer and paget’s disease of the breast. Mutations in the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genes are also associated with other forms of cancer including fallopian tube carcinoma, prostate cancer in men and primary peritoneum cancer. Though known to increase the risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer, this gene mutation also results in a two to four times higher risk of cancer in the stomach, gallbladder, pancreas and more.
Join our fight against breast and ovarian cancer based on a triple A philosophy
The first step in the prevention of cancer is to acknowledge that it may affect you. Trying to avoid knowing about it or pretending that it cannot affect you is not a solution. Realizing that even you are in danger is the best way to prevent a stressful and unpleasant situation in the future. That is why we are investing in a campaign against breast cancer.
A few years ago, genetic testing for breast cancer was a very costly process which often took several months before results were available. Nowadays, even with the scientific developments in breast cancer identification and more sophisticated laboratory equipment, genetic testing is, unfortunately, still uncommon and expensive. That is why we aim to allow all women an equal opportunity to get tested by offering the lowest fees in the UK.
In spite of the fact that 90% of breast cancers are not inherited, it is unlikely that a genetic test will be offered to you by your NHS doctor without having a strong family history. In most cases, you will also be expected to undergo a tedious process of referrals in order to qualify for testing. At GHC GENETICS UK, we provide genetic testing regardless of family history and we guarantee your results within 2 to 4 weeks.