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Here's your risk of getting these gynecologic cancers

Cancer prediction is an entire science of it's own, and you need a personal consultation to determine your real risks. For decades we mainly were quoting your cancer risk of any particular cancer by keeping track the major female reproductive cancers in the United states. The most basic risks of cancer was then able to be quoted based on your lifetime risk of actually getting invasive disease, which is where we have come up with these figures:

1 out of 8 women: Breast Cancer

1/38 Endometrial (uterine lining) Cancer

1/70 Ovarian Cancer

1/135 Cervical Cancer

By the way, a woman's risk of colon cancer is 1/25, just to put additional perspective on this.

We have begun to slowly modify those risks, and be able to really give individual women a risk assessment based on certain other factors, just like smoking raises our lifetime risk of lung cancer, there are other associated factors that increase the risk of gynecologic cancers, such as the risk of cervical cancer greatly multiplies if you have a High Risk HPV virus infection.

The newest trend was to begin to develop the genetic basis for some disease. BRCA1/2 genes can raise your risk of breast cancer a 50% or even 80% lifetime risk depending on your specific genetics. Although then having a mastectomy can lower that risk to virtually zero. If we can find the right gene, and 'correct' or edit the genes, the future of cancer control changes dramatically.

The NIH wants to hone in on the genetics of cancers so that some of these clinical end points can be determined. Most cancers come from a defective gene operating at the tissue level. In most cases it develops over time, it's not specifically something you were born with. At the NIH there is a branch called the Cancer Genome Atlas Project trying to understand the genetics of over 20 common cancers. From this information it is hoped that the cancers can be either prevented or cured. Other branches of the international science community through the Summit on Gene Editing are supportive, but want us to establish important ethical guidelines, as well as open cooperation to make the technology available. There is a tremendous amount of research being published literally daily, and prevention is more than a dream, they seem to be around the corner.

One thing we know for sure, at this point many cancers are preventable, see your gyno to see if you are doing enough to prevent them.


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