Ovarian cancer celebrity cases prompt new testing guidelines

Referrals to one familial cancer centre have tripled since May when actress Angelina Jolie announced she had a double mastectomy after being found to carry the BRCA1 gene mutation. It has also been reported she will have an oophorectomy.

The daughter of actor Pierce Brosnan, Charlotte, died last week aged 41 after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer three years ago.

Her mother, Australian actress Cassandra Harris, died at the age of 43 from the same cancer in 1991, before testing for mutations of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes began in 1997.

The new Australian guidelines, formulated by the network of familial cancer centres, seek to remove the need to assess family history before referring a patient for a BRCA test.

Now all women aged 70 or under with ovarian cancer are advised to be tested, compared to previous guidelines under which recommended referral for women with ovarian cancer and a 10% or higher risk of BRCA mutation, based on the