CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Dorset Magazine today CLICK HERE

Ovarian Cancer - does family health history indicate whether you are more susceptible to the disease

PUBLISHED: 11:31 01 April 2015 | UPDATED: 11:31 01 April 2015

Annie Chillingworth discovered that she had inherited a faulty BRCA gene

Annie Chillingworth discovered that she had inherited a faulty BRCA gene

Archant

Ovarian cancer isn’t as well-known as other female cancers and yet it is the fifth most common - with more than 7,000 diagnoses in the UK each year.

Almost one in five (17%) women with ovarian cancer carries a BRCA 1/2 gene mutation. We all have BRCA genes but the likelihood of developing ovarian cancer if you have a BRCA gene mutation increases from one in 52, to one in two, according to medical research charity Ovarian Cancer Action. BRCA mutations also increase the risk of developing breast cancer.

Annie Chillingworth, 50, lives with her husband and children in Sherborne. She discovered that she has a BRCA 1 mutation.There was a long family history of breast and ovarian cancer in Annie’s family and because of this she had yearly breast checks from the age of 27. For a long time she suspected she may carry a faulty BRCA gene but didn’t feel informed enough to push for testing.

“From the first time I became aware that they’d identified the BRCA gene in my family I asked at my check-ups if it would be possible to be tested. But the answers were always unclear,” said Annie. “I also asked about the link between ovarian cancer and breast cancer, again they were unclear about the need for screening.”

Annie was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer in 2009. “A part of me felt like my diagnosis was inevitable, given my family history,” she said. “For a long time after I was diagnosed I felt very angry. I had been so well positioned to catch my ovarian cancer early. If I had been better informed, I could have insisted on being screened for ovarian cancer too. If I had known my BRCA status I could have taken preventative measures.”

After having her womb removed in 2009, Annie went onto have a preventative double mastectomy in 2010. She says the BRCA issue needs more attention and is pleased that high profile women like Angelina Jolie – who’s also had a preventative double mastectomy – are talking about BRCA and the implications of being a carrier.

While nearly 90 per cent of women know of Jolie’s story and understood her decision to undergo the double mastectomy, according to Ovarian Cancer Action only one in ten were then prompted to look into their own family history of breast or ovarian cancer.

“I can’t help but wonder whether the years of chemo and heartache could have been avoided had I known my BRCA status,” said Annie. “I am grateful to still be here and I’m grateful that my 18 year old daughter hasn’t inherited this awful genetic mutation. I pray that my sons haven’t either.” Currently aged 13 and 16, Annie’s sons will be tested when they’re older.

Annie’s advice to any woman who may suspect something is wrong is to be persistent and get checked out, also ask relatives if there is a history of cancer in the family. “Be as informed as you can, learn the symptoms. And, most importantly, listen to your body. After all, you know it better than anyone else.”

To explore your family history and assess your BRCA risk visit ovarian.org.uk/brca-risk-tool

***

SPOTTING OVARIAN CANCER

The four main symptoms of ovarian cancer are:

• Persistent stomach pain

• Persistent bloating or increased stomach size

• Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly

• Needing to urinate more frequently

The key features of these symptoms are:

• Their persistency - they don’t go away

• Their frequency - they occur most days

• The symptoms are new - they started in the last 12 months

• The symptoms are unusual - they are not normal for you

***

READ ON

Treatment available to help prevent migraine attacks - Migraines are a debilitating illness which can leave people suffering for days after the initial attack, but there is quick and effective treatment available to help prevent attacks as Consultant Neurologist, Dr Rudy Capildeo explains.

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Dorset visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Dorset staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Dorset account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Shop with us at Great British Life

More from Style

Friday, October 12, 2018

Choosing the right office shoes for men can be a difficult business. Here are our top tips for selecting the best style of formal shoes to wear to work

Read more
Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Bride: The Wedding Show returns to Westpoint Exeter on October 13 and 14th promising a weekend of inspiration and entertainment with over 160 regional wedding suppliers on hand to help you plan your special day

Read more
Thursday, July 5, 2018

As the weather hots up give your look a modern boho twist

Read more
 
A+ South & South West

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Subscribe or buy a mag today


subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search