Hereditary breast, ovarian cancer on rise in India: Study

Hereditary breast and ovarian cancer cases are on the rise in India, three times more than in western countries, said a study by leading bioinformatics firm Strand Life Sciences Ltd on Tuesday. “Breast cancer gene mutations in the Indian population are three times more in India than in the western world due to inherited genetic disorders,” revealed the study based on diagnosis of breast and ovarian cancer patients in the country.
Though the breast cancer gene was not considered a major threat when it was identified by genomics pioneer Mary-Claire King in the 1990s, data over the years found that its mutations were a key cause of cancer incidences globally. “Testing of hundreds of patients for genetic profile of breast and ovarian cancer cases showed that 72 per cent of their relatives, including parents, children and siblings had the same mutation for the cancer in the family,” said Strand Chief Medical Officer Sudhir Borgonha, citing the findings.
The study, published in the Journal of Human Genetics, a Nature group publication, highlights the technology available in the country to find non-communicable diseases like cancer and other inherited generic disorders. “We have seen breast cancer patients as young as 20 years of age. If a genomic profiling is done on them, we can know if their cancer is hereditary and advise other family members to take the test,” said Borgonha.
About 20 per cent of the breast and ovarian cancer patients who tested positive, however, displayed no family history of the dreaded disease. “As only a few studies were conducted to determine the prevalence of inherited mutations in such patients, we need more studies to examine a wider mutational spectrum of the hereditary breast and ovarian cancer genes,” said Strand Chairman and Managing Director Vijay Chandru in a statement here.
According to the National Cancer Registry, breast cancer accounts for 27 per cent of all cancers in women, with one in every 28 women likely to develop it during her lifetime and one in every two women diagnosed with it succumbs. “As the burden of breast cancer on the healthcare system is increasing, the need for cost-effective methods of early detection, screening and surveillance is imperative,” stressed Chandru.
Asserting that genetic profiling was a game-changer and a precise tool to decode complex diseases, Chandru said new genomic technologies would pave way for preventive and personalised healthcare. “New advances in genomic technologies allow the sequencing and analysis of multiple genes associated with a disease like cancer at a lower cost as compared with traditional methods,” said the company’s Vice President Satish Sankaran in the statement.
“Genetic testing gives people a chance to learn if their breast cancer or their family history of it is due to an inherited gene mutation,” added Chandru. The 17-year-old city-based company makes diagnostics to empower cancer care and genetic testing for inherited diseases.


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