Studies show that if your father’s mother, your paternal grandmother, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, you are at a higher risk for the disease than if your grandmother on your mother’s side had ovarian cancer, reported ABC News. There is evidence that the disease may be inherited though the X chromosome, which are separate from other risk factors passed down on other chromosomes. Dr. Kevin Eng, lead on the study, shared that the team has found powerful evidence to support the correlation of the disease and the X chromosome.
When a woman has inherited BRCA 1 or 2 gene mutations from either parent, their risk for developing ovarian cancer is much higher. Ovarian cancer is known to be a cancer with a low survival rate. There is an interesting inheritance pattern: a sister of a woman who has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer is much more likely to also develop the cancer than the woman’s mother or daughter. This is true even for women who don’t have one of these known mutations. The researchers wanted to study multiple generations to better understand this confusing pattern.
The researchers thought about this conundrum and how it relates to the X-chromosome. All women receive two X chromosomes, one from each parent, whereas men only have one X chromosome. If a mother has an X-linked gene mutation, there’s only a 50% chance she would pass it to her daughter, whereas if a father had an X-linked gene chromosome, there’s a 100% chance he would pass it to his daughter.
The researchers collected data over the last 30 years for this study, sifting through the registry on Familial Ovarian Cancer. Out of grandmothers and their granddaughters diagnosed with ovarian cancer, 28.4% of the grandmother’s were paternal and 13.9% were maternal.
The data they’ve come across is very impactful and will be a big help into identifying the risk for someone developing ovarian cancer. While much more research needs to be done, they team has successfully opened the right door to finding more information needed to make an impact on ovarian cancer early diagnosis.
It’s suggested that women should talk to their doctors about their family history and potential risk, especially those with family histories of this diagnosis. The doctor can determine if you will need a genetic investigation or not.