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Scientific Day on Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer

In recognition of the Breast Cancer Awareness month, the Sultan Qaboos Comprehensive Cancer Care and Research Center (SQCCCRC), represented by the Genomics Department, organized a scientific day to raise awareness among healthcare professionals in the Sultanate of Oman about Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer syndrome (HBOC).

Dr. Abeer Al Sayegh, Senior Consultant Genetics, provided information on genetic mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which makes it more likely that a person will get breast, ovarian, and other cancers. She discussed how these genetic mutations are inherited in families and the body organs most susceptible to cancer due to these mutations.  Ms. Sarah Al-Kiyumi, Genetics counsellor explained the process of evaluating cases before conducting examinations.

Dr. Reem Mohammed, a Genetics Physician, discussed the role of genetic testing and counseling in guiding and educating carriers of these genetic mutations. Dr. Alza Kraus, a Genetics Specialist, addressed the best medical methods for preventing and reducing the chances of cancer in individuals diagnosed with mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Dr. Chantel Van Wyk, Senior Specialist Genetics, discussed the psychological effects of the diagnosis of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer on the patient and their family, emphasizing the counseling needs of individuals carrying a genetic mutation in the BRCA gene.

Dr. Abeer Al Sayegh, Head of the Genomics Department, said, “Due to the importance of genetic testing and its role in prevention, it is advisable to conduct BRCA1 and BRCA2 testing in suspected cases. At SQCCCRC, the medical team recommends genetic testing to detect hereditary mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes for the patient and their family in case of a strong family history of cancer, and the presence of indicators such as repeated cases of breast and ovarian cancer within the family, diagnosis with Triple negative breast cancer at age 60 or younger in women, or the occurrence of breast cancer in a first-degree relative in both breasts or in both breast and ovarian.’

Al Sayegh added, “Detecting hereditary mutations in the patient helps the medical team understand the nature of the disease accurately and figure out the most suitable treatment for the case. It also contributes to supplying genetic guidance to the family effectively. Individuals carrying the gene are recommended to join regular screening programs for early cancer detection and take part in research studies aimed at studying cancer evolution. In cases with a high probability of cancer, some women may decide to undergo preventive surgery to reduce the risk of cancer in the future.”

Ms. Bushra Mohammed Al-Mahri, a Genetics counsellor, emphasized that a positive test result does not necessarily mean inevitable cancer but shows that the gene carrier is more susceptible to future development. Nowadays, the world has seen a significant increase in breast cancer survivors thanks to advances in treatment methods such as targeted therapy and radiation therapy, in addition to other treatments, and the rapid development of early tumor diagnosis technologies.

Al Mahri explained, “Women in Oman can benefit from genetic testing services and attend the One-Stop Breast Clinic by submitting a referral request through the electronic patient referral portal in SQCCCRC official website.”

BRCA day was attended by employees and staff from the laboratories and various therapeutic programs of the Center, along with healthcare professionals from outside the Center. The attendees expressed interest in understanding the syndrome, the mechanism of patient referral, and genetic counseling. A lively discussion took place about the awareness and willingness of the Omani community to undergo genetic testing.

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