MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — For the first time, there’s an at-home test to show a woman’s risk for ovarian cancer.
MAGENTA is a free, nationwide clinical trial for women at risk for breast or ovarian cancer.
“There are a lot of barriers to genetic testing and MAGENTA is designed to make it much easier, so women don’t have to take time off from work, they don’t have to get child care, they can do it in their own home,” said Kathleen Gavin, the executive director of Minnesota Ovarian Cancer Alliance.
“We’re hoping to identify more people with the information so they can take steps to reduce their risk,” she added.
WCCO’s Kim Johnson has wanted to reduce her risk for ovarian cancer since her mom, Peggy, got the scary diagnosis.
After being declared cancer free 10 years ago, Peggy also learned she tested negative for BRCA 1 and 2.
But since then, more and more mutations are being discovered that are linked to ovarian cancer.
And MAGENTA can tell Kim she has not only the BRCA mutations, but 17 others that Peggy was never tested for.
After filling out an online questionnaire, Kim qualified for the clinical trial. A few weeks later, the “spit kit” arrived in the mail.
“It’s such a rotten disease that anything we can do to keep the person from just getting it is a miracle really,” said Dr. Cheryl Bailey, the chief of gynecologic oncology at Abbott Northwestern.
Bailey believes this trial will help those who test positive get the information they need. But she worries those with negative test results will fall through the cracks.
“There is a reason you were getting testing and that’s that there is something in your family history that suggests something is going on we might just not have a name for it yet,” she said.
She urges women who fall into that category to see a genetic counselor to learn about other mutations.
“I love this study to get all the population tested who have an increase cancer family risk, but we really want to promote the excellent care that our genetic counselors give,” she said.
But when it comes to a cancer that often goes undetected until it’s too late, this is a step forward in saving lives.
“We know that some women are at elevated risk right, so we can do what we can with those women to reduce their risk and that will reduce the incidents of ovarian cancer,” Gavin said.
Just last week, Kim tested negative for the 19 mutations.
So for now, she won’t have to consider preventative steps like a mastectomy or the removal of ovaries and fallopian tubes.
If you’d like to see if you qualify for the MAGENTA trial, click here.