Should I be asking for genetic testing for gynaecological cancer?

Should I be asking for genetic testing for gynaecological cancer?

Only a small number of cancers are linked to genetic causes and only a small number of gynaecological cancers such as ovarian and womb (uterine) cancers run in families. The precise risk of developing these cancers will depend on your full family history. Doctors will examine your family tree with particular attention to the age of your relatives and the precise type of cancer they were diagnosed with. There are many types of ovarian cancer and only some are potentially inherited.

Genetic testing is not infallible and the knowledge of your genetic make-up can have profound implications for you and your family. Consequently, the decision to have a test requires expert counselling. The specialist genetic service will have a set of criteria that they have to follow so that the can provide genetic testing free on the NHS. Other tests are available outside the NHS and your doctor or hospital clinical nurse specialist should be able to give you the best advice on how appropriate this is.

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  • I have just been told by an oncologist at the hospital that's been treating me that they are subjecting my tissue samples for genetic testing, suspecting that I might well have the BRCA genetic mutation or something called Lynch Syndrome - which is even more frightening. But they have not offered me any counselling. Indeed, I was on my own at the appointment and I walked out of there with my head reeling and without even knowing when they will be telling me the results of the tests. Having looked up the implications of both conditions, I am now shocked to the core about what my future prospects might be. Why do some hospitals not consider that people might need some support in the wake of a conversation like that?!