Angelina Jolie and genetic ovarian cancer risk

Wednesday 25 March, 2015

Celebrity Angelina Jolie has revealed she has had surgery to remove her ovaries and fallopian tubes as a preventive measure for cancer.

Ms Jolie's decision comes after she underwent a prophylactic (preventive) double mastectomy in 2013.

Both surgeries are a result of a blood test revealing Ms Jolie carries a mutation in the BRCA1 gene, giving her an estimated 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer.

Each year, about 1,300 Australian women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer. It's the ninth most common cancer in women.

Ovarian cancer is most common in women over 50, with 63 the average age of diagnosis.

In about one in 10 women diagnosed with ovarian cancer, there may be an inherited faulty gene in their family. This fault increases the risk of developing the disease.

Cancer Council Victoria encourages people wanting information on genetic risk factors to contact Cancer Council 13 11 20 to speak to an experienced cancer nurse.

Nurses are unable to give individual medical advice, but can listen to a person's concerns and discuss where further information can be obtained about genetic testing and treatment options. They can also refer people to our support services, including our Gene Connect program.

This support service is available for people affected by an inherited gene that increases cancer risk. The free and confidential telephone peer support program links people to a trained volunteer who has the same genetic risk factor.

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