Karen H. Lu, MD, on Addresses Gap in Genetic Counseling for Women at Risk for Ovarian Cancer

May 30, 2020

The MD Anderson Cancer Center expert spoke about the disconnect in women who are at risk for ovarian cancer to actually receive genetic counseling.

Although genetic counseling surfaced decades ago, there is still a disconnect in women who are at risk for ovarian cancer to actually receive it, according to Karen H. Lu, MD.

At the 2020 ASCO Virtual Scientific Program, Lu – from the Department of Gynecologic Oncology and Reproductive Medicine at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center – presented on findings from the MAGENTA trial, designed to test whether pre and/or post-test genetic counseling is needed to optimally deliver online accessible genetic testing.

She spoke to CancerNetwork about the aim of the study and why online genetic testing may be an added value to negate this disconnect in woman at risk for ovarian cancer.

Ovarian cancer is 1 of the deadliest cancers in women. We know that in the general population the risk is about 1.5%, so quite low. But we also know that there is women in the population that have an extremely high risk for ovarian cancer, from 20% up to 40% lifetime risk. So, that’s a huge difference.

We know that over the last 2 decades that clinical genetic testing can actually very precisely identify who are those women at very high risk of developing ovarian cancer. When you identify those women, you also allow them to institute preventive measures so that they are no longer at that increased risk.

Despite the fact that clinical genetic testing has been available for decades, the uptake is quite low. So, there was a gap between this medical information that is so powerful and then women not really taking advantage of that.

This study was all about looking at different ways to deliver genetic testing and counseling and wanting to make sure that it was safe.

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