Louise discovered she had the BRCA gene mutation when she took part in a project for Ashkenazi Jews, for whom the risk of having the mutation is 1 in 40, compared with between 1 in 400 to 1 in 800 in the general population.
"I grew up in a family where many relatives had died of cancer. I always found it rather odd.
When I tested positive for the BRCA gene mutation I was almost relieved that there was an explanation as to why there was so much cancer in my family.
"My lifetime risk was up to 80% of getting breast cancer and around 40% of getting ovarian cancer"Louise Malina
Then came the difficulty of the decision making process as to what preventative action I should take, if any.
As I was already 50 years old, the decision to have my ovaries and tubes removed was an easy one and I’m pleased to say that the operation caused me no problems and I felt well within a couple of days afterwards.
The next decision was whether or not to have risk reducing breast surgery. I undertook a great deal of research including attending the FORCE conference in America to try to find out everything I could about risks and also types of surgery available. There seemed to be so many types of surgery that it was almost overwhelming.
It was only when I came back from America and read the Royal Marsden BRCA leaflet that I made my decision. The leaflet showed that the risk in someone of my age age was in the region of 55% and whilst these are still not good odds, I have decided that for the time being I will keep my breasts and go for the annual mammogram instead.
My kids have a 50% chance of each inheriting the BRCA1 mutation. Thankfully, my son tested negative and we are currently waiting for results for my daughter.
I know that I’m taking a huge risk in not having the surgery and I will probably at some stage reconsider but for today I will live with the risk."
Use our BRCA Risk Tool to find out if your family history puts you at risk of ovarian cancer. If you have tested positive for a genetic mutation you can find out more here