Doctors can predict the risk of developing ovarian cancer using a genetic marker, according to a study published in Cancer Research (2010 Jul 20. [Epub ahead of print]).

The study researchers from Yale Cancer Center first searched for a variant of the V-Ki-ras2 Kirsten rat sarcoma viral oncogene homolog (KRAS) oncogene among ovarian cancer patients and found that one in four had the gene variant, compared to 6% of the general population. Researchers confirmed their discovery that the KRAS-variant was a genetic marker of ovarian cancer risk when they studied women with ovarian cancer who also had evidence of a hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome.

The results of the study revealed that the KRAS-variant was present in 61% of ovarian cancer patients with a family history of breast and ovarian cancer. In addition, six out of 10 women without other known genetic markers of ovarian cancer risk had the KRAS-variant. Researchers suggested that the marker may be a new sign of ovarian cancer risk for women with a family history of ovarian cancer.

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“For many women out there with a strong family history of ovarian cancer who previously have had no identified genetic cause for their family’s disease; this might be it for them,’ said Joanne Weidhaas, associate professor of therapeutic radiology, researcher for the Yale Cancer Center and co-senior author of the study. “Our findings support that the KRAS-variant is a new genetic marker of ovarian cancer risk.”