New clinic to revolutionise ovarian and breast cancer prevention 

20/11/2015 00:00 
A new research clinic opened this week at UCLH will have the potential to revolutionise the lives of women with a genetic mutation leading to improvements in predicting the risk for and prevention of developing ovarian and breast cancer in the UK.

Inspiration for the clinic has come from the great strides made over the last few decades in cardiovascular medicine, where a greater understanding of heart diseases causes has allowed preventative action to be taken, reducing the number of people developing the disease.

As a result mortality has decreased by 50 per cent, but over the same period mortality from ovarian cancer has reduced by just three per cent. The new research clinic is aiming to address that problem.

The BRCA PROTECT research clinic will investigate the risk of women developing breast and ovarian cancer. Women with a known gene mutation, as well as those without any known genetic risk, are invited to take part in the study.

Research volunteers will need to attend a 45-minute session where they will get further information, answer specific questions and donate one-off samples to aid the research. The second stage of the project will see volunteers invited to participate in clinical trials studying new ways of preventing cancer in women at increased risk. The aim is to recruit 1,500 with BRCA1/2 mutations and 3,000 without.

Professor Usha Menon, head of the Gynaecological Cancer Research Centre at UCL and lead of UCLH’s familial gynaecological cancer service, said: “Research to date into causes of ovarian cancer has focused on genetic and lifestyle risk factors. This study seeks to further or understanding of how our genes and the way we live interact to cause cancer and then translate these insights into preventative strategies.

"All such work is underpinned by the generosity of hundreds of volunteers and I hope that as always many women will come forward to join us in this effort.”

Breast cancer and ovarian cancer are the first and third commonest female-specific cancers in the UK and both are potentially deadly, sometimes affecting younger women.

Athena Lamnisos, chief executive of The Eve Appeal, said: “This research clinic is very exciting and provides a novel way of developing the most effective and efficient mechanisms to decode women’s cancers. It is crucial for us to fully understand the role that genetic mutations can play in the early development of these cancers; and how best we can protect women in the future without the need for invasive surgery.”

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