SGO updates hereditary cancer recommendations

March 25, 2014

The Society of Gynecologic Oncology (SGO) has issued new clinical practice statements surrounding hereditary cancer testing for patients with ovarian and endometrial cancer.  The statements are consistent with the recently revised National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines and support broader access to genetic testing for patients with ovarian and endometrial cancer.

“Historically, hereditary cancer testing has been underutilized in gynecologic cancers. The new practice recommendations underscore the importance of testing as a clinical management tool,” says Sharyn N. Lewin, MD, assistant clinical professor of gynecologic oncology at Columbia University Medical Center. “Every woman with ovarian or endometrial cancer should be tested by her healthcare provider in order to guide therapy and potentially save the lives of unaffected family members.”

Some key aspects of the statements include:

  • A recommendation that women diagnosed with epithelial ovarian, tubal, and peritoneal cancers should be considered for genetic counselling and testing even in the absence of family history;
  • A recommendation that all women diagnosed with endometrial cancer should undergo systematic clinical screening (review of personal and family history) and/or molecular screening for hereditary colon cancer risk;
  • An acknowledgement of the advantages of cancer gene panels including decreased cost, improved efficiency, and the fact that a negative genetic test is more reassuring because it eliminates concerns about an inherited risk for all known genes.

Hereditary cancer testing for gynecologic cancers has been underutilized compared to breast cancer despite the fact that ovarian and endometrial cancer patients are at higher risk for hereditary cancer.  Molecular diagnostics company Myriad Genetics, Inc., estimates that fewer than 25% of women with ovarian cancer and fewer than 5% of women with endometrial cancer receive hereditary cancer testing. Read more about the SGO.