Have you ever gotten caught in a thunderstorm and thought to yourself, “If I only knew it was going to rain today, I would have brought an umbrella!”
Now, imagine having a tool that can help inform your personal risk and empower you to make important health decisions beforehand.
Imagine no more and say hello to ARiCa, our Asian Risk Calculator!
Note: This is not your typical calculator.
Birthed out of a collaboration between Cancer Research Malaysia with local and international partners, ARiCa calculates a breast cancer patient’s probability of carrying a faulty BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene.
Whoa, wait a second, BRCA genes? What are they?
BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 are important genes that help our bodies fight cancer. Also known as tumor suppressor genes, they help to keep breast, ovarian, and other cells from growing and dividing too rapidly or in an uncontrolled way. A faulty BRCA gene may lead to an increased risk of breast, ovarian, prostate and/or pancreatic cancer(s).
To date, doctors in most Asian countries have recommended genetic testing only to those who develop breast cancer at a young age or those who have close relatives with breast or ovarian cancer. Due to the lack of tools specifically tailored for Asian women and the lack of individual assessment, few attend genetic counselling and testing. As a result, patients and their family members miss the opportunity to be aware of their genetic risk. Hence, they may lack the necessary awareness to make important decisions for precise treatment and prevention measures.
Here’s where ARiCa comes in. Built specifically for Asian women, ARiCa was developed from a sample of more than 8,000 breast cancer patients from Malaysia and Singapore. Designed for a culturally diverse population like ours, ARiCa is more accurate than existing tools (which were designed based on Caucasian populations).
How does ARiCa make a difference then?
With ARiCa, Asian patients and their families can:
- Identify their risk of carrying a faulty BRCA gene more accurately
- Highlight their need for genetic counselling and genetic testing services to validate the presence of faulty BRCA genes
- Access individualized treatment recommendations and exercise risk management strategies
- Make informed choices on life-saving screening and prevention options for family members
ARiCa helps to filter individuals with high-risk scores to be referred for genetic counselling and testing – which is especially important in low to middle income countries where resources and access are limited and cost is high.
ARiCa can make a world of difference for Asian women. Understanding one’s risk makes for better decisions. In the field of cancer research, where survival can be a matter of tweaking millimeters rather than inches, tools like ARiCa helps ensure Asians stand a better chance in the fight against cancer.
All of this is possible because of charitable donations. Donations are the batteries that power life-saving research and provide new hope to cancer patients and their families. Together, we can strive towards a better, brighter future!
*The development of the ARiCA tool was made possible thanks to the support of charitable public donations, research grants, and funding from the Wellcome Trust, Yayasan Sime Darby, Yayasan PETRONAS, Estee Lauder Group of Companies, Khind Starfish Foundation, Malaysian Ministry of Higher Education High Impact Research Grant, National Research Foundation Singapore, National University of Singapore, National Medical Research Council, and Cancer Research UK.