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New online tool assesses family history of ovarian and breast cancer

Women concerned about their family history of ovarian or breast cancer are being encouraged to go online with their general practitioner to complete National Breast and Ovarian Cancer Centre’s* new risk assessment tool.

Women concerned about their family history of ovarian or breast cancer are being encouraged to go online with their general practitioner to complete National Breast and Ovarian Cancer Centre’s* new risk assessment tool.

Dr Helen Zorbas, CEO, National Breast and Ovarian Cancer Centre (NBOCC)*, said the easy-to-use online tool has been developed to assist health professionals in assessing a woman’s risk of developing ovarian or breast cancer based on her family history of the diseases.

The Familial Risk Assessment - Breast and Ovarian Cancer tool can be accessed online.

The online tool, developed for use by doctors, takes a woman and her doctor through a maximum of eight questions, collecting information about the history of breast and ovarian cancer on both sides of the family.

“The tool helps to identify women who should be referred to a family cancer clinic for further assessment and advice,” said Dr Zorbas. “However, the tool will mostly reassure the majority of women they are not at increased risk for ovarian or breast cancer based on their family history.”

Though family history is an important risk factor for both ovarian and breast cancer, many women overestimate significance of their family history.

“In fact, less than one per cent of women will be placed into the highest risk category for ovarian or breast cancer based on their family history,” said Dr Zorbas.

“The significance of a family history increases with the number of family members affected, the younger their ages at diagnosis, and the closer the relation. Being of Ashkenazi Jewish descent is also a key determinant.”

Women with a strong family history of breast cancer or ovarian cancer have an increased risk of developing either cancer. The same inherited genetic faults that make a person more likely to develop breast cancer may also make a person more likely to develop ovarian cancer.

The online tool does not ask for personal contact details, so women can be assured of their privacy.

Each year, more than 1200 Australian women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer and more than 12,600 are diagnosed with breast cancer.

National Breast and Ovarian Cancer Centre* is funded by the Australian Government and works with consumers, health professionals, cancer organisations, researchers and governments to improve care and cancer control in breast and ovarian cancer.

Media contact:

Erin Sharp 0458 900 777