Part 3: How the Recent “Devastating News” About Angelina Jolie is Exposing Another “Silent Killer”
That’s right, the recent devastating news on Angelina Jolie is shedding light on a seldom discussed but “silent killer” of women:
- It is the 7th most common cancer for women in the world.
- It generally attacks women between ages 50 and 59.
- In 75% of the cases it is advanced beyond the early stages.
What is this less commonly discussed cancer killer? Ovarian cancer has a lifetime risk of 1.6% of women with no family history. This increases to 5% in women with a family history. In women without an increased risk by way of family history, testing will only predict its occurrence 3% of the time!
So what does Angelina Jolie’s breast cancer risk have anything to do with ovarian cancer? There is a known increase in incidence of ovarian cancer in women who develop breast cancer. In women who test positive for the BRCA gene mutation (the most commonly discussed breast cancer family gene), the risk can be as high as 46% lifetime probability of ovarian cancer. And what this means for someone like Angelina Jolie is not only is she at an increased risk of developing breast cancer had she not undergone surgery, but she also carries an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer, too.
Beyond the scope of our discussion are the treatment controversies in women before menopause (around age 50) as well as after menopause concerning blocking natural hormone effects to decrease breast cancer development. But what is clear is in this small group of women who have an increased risk for either breast and/or ovarian cancer, they must undergo close surveillance and sometimes very aggressive treatment.
But what about most women who do not have a family gene for breast or ovarian cancer? The worry running through most women’s minds is what should they do. One of the biggest problems identified in the last article was that women, even at lower risk for developing breast cancer, are not compulsive enough with starting base line mammograms at age 40 and following through with annual screening that has been shown to catch breast cancer earlier than without screening alone. The real question that many may be asking is what about ovarian cancer itself. This is very difficult, because in many ways, like PSA testing in men for prostate cancer, the current basic tumor marker testing combined with ultrasound, is better at telling women that they don’t have it (which is most women) than predicting that they will get it. On the other side of the argument is that many unnecessary surgeries and interventions for removing ovaries and blocking estrogen receptors, would not only diminish the quality of a woman’s life, but may also have its own set of risks including osteoporosis and earlier heart disease.
So, what resources do women have when they are not at increased risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer and yet still want to be sure that the type of hormonal therapy that they’re receiving is actually more beneficial than risky. One of the main reasons that individual hormonal expert consultation is required before the initiation of any hormonal regiment, including that of replacing female hormones, is seeing what would help a woman and not put her at increased risk. In fact, I even see women who have been treated for breast cancer or are at increased risk, and have custom tailored the therapy to reduce risk and increase benefit. One of the benefits of concierge medicine is that you can deliver a “personalized approach” and ultimately create a quality of life for women so that they can enjoy their daily relationships, activities and optimism toward a healthier lifestyle.
Dedicated to your Body Hormone Transformation,
George F Moricz, MD
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P.P.S. – For those that are more intrigued than ever about how natural hormonal therapy could benefit them without increasing risks of certain cancers, be sure to call Alicia at (903) 306-2215 for your very own individualized assessment and hormonal replacement plan.