Gynaecological Cancer: Awareness Is Key To Advocating For Women’s Health
Awareness Is Key To Advocating For Women’s Health : Gynaecological cancers, encompassing cervical, ovarian, vulvar, and uterine, among others, pose a significant threat to women’s health worldwide. Gynaecological cancers have a significantly higher mortality rate as there are usually no noticeable symptoms and are detected at advanced stages. While these cancers can affect women of all ages, risk prediction, early detection, and timely intervention are crucial for better outcomes. Moreover, Dr Suruchi Aggarwal, Head – of Scientific Affairs at MedGenome, explains it is essential to know when to go for check-ups, self-examinations, and available tests for gynaecological cancers.
Genetic Tests For Early Intervention And Personalised Care
While regular screenings and self-examinations play a pivotal role, advanced genetic diagnostic tests help in understanding one’s genetic predisposition to gynaecological cancer.
- There are specific mutations or changes in the DNA which are present from birth and passed down in the families. These changes may be harmful at times and increase the risk of developing cancer. E.g., BRCA1 & BRCA2 gene mutations increase the risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer.
- Genetic testing helps to identify these types of mutations in critical genes, which helps to understand the risk of developing gynaecological cancers. Knowing the risk allows more vigilant monitoring, early detection, and proactive measures with the help of medical practitioners, especially in ovarian and fallopian tube cancers, which often present with vague symptoms.
- About 8-10 per cent of ovarian cancer cases are attributed to hereditary mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Individuals with these mutations are also at higher risk of developing other cancers like breast, pancreatic, prostate (male), male breast cancer, melanoma, etc. Lynch syndrome predisposes to endometrial cancer in addition to colorectal cancer and is caused by mutations in genes like MLH1, MSH2, MSH6, PMS2 and EPCAM.
Incorporating genetic testing into health screenings can help women take proactive steps toward early intervention and individualised care, ultimately saving lives. A Next Generation Sequencing (NGS)–based genetic test is a blood test that analyses genomic DNA to detect mutations in multiple genes in a single test. It is an empathetic and robust high-throughput sequencing method that provides more reliable results. BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic testing help to accurately determine hereditary risk (presence of personal or family history), identify disease prognosis (impact on overall survival of breast cancer patients), and increase diagnostic value (decision on best drug treatment). One of the most important benefits of the test is that it improves early detection by 1.5 to 2.5 times, increasing overall survival and reducing treatment costs. Continuous follow-up helps detect any development promptly.
Every woman should prioritize her health and advocate for herself by staying informed, attending regular medical checkups, and promptly reporting any unusual symptoms to medical personnel. Remember, knowledge is power regarding women’s health, and awareness is the key.