What is the link between our genetics and risk of cancer?

James Flanagan Jonathan Krell
Dr James Flanagan, Ovarian Cancer Action Research Centre

Cancer risk prediction models are statistical models that estimate the probability of developing cancer over a defined period of time using genetic information, environmental exposures – for example, the use of talc -, and lifestyle factors. This helps clinicians to identify individuals at a higher risk of specific cancers and give us potentially life-saving opportunities to prevent cancer, or diagnose it early.

Dr James Flanagan’s research focuses on the epigenetic reasons behind ovarian cancer risk. He aims to find out whether biological responses to specific lifestyle factors, such as taking the contraceptive pill, affect a woman’s chance of developing ovarian cancer. He hopes to discover the exact epigenetic patterns that raise a woman’s risk of ovarian cancer, and use this information to build a better risk prediction model. 

What’s next?

Dr Flanagan’s research will help develop new ways to identify women at highest risk, so they can take steps to reduce their risk and prevent the disease occurring in the first place.