WHAT IS OVARIAN CANCER?
Ovarian cancer occurs when cells in the ovary grow and divide uncontrollably. The cells may form a tumor on the ovary, or they also can break off from the main tumor and spread to other parts of the body. Although ovarian cancer can spread throughout the entire body, in most cases it stays in the abdomen and affects organs such as the intestines, liver and stomach. There are several types of ovarian cancer. However, most cancers of the ovary come from the cells that make up the outer lining of the ovary.
HOW COMMON IS OVARIAN CANCER?
A woman’s risk of getting ovarian cancer during her lifetime is about one in 67. The risk of getting this cancer and dying from it is one in 95. Ovarian cancer is the eighth most common cancer in women, excluding skin cancer. It is the fifth leading cause of cancer death in women.
WHAT ARE SOME RISK FACTORS FOR OVARIAN CANCER
The exact causes of ovarian cancer are not known. However, studies show that the following risk factors may increase the chance of developing this disease:
- Family History – first-degree relatives (mother, daughter, sister), especially if two or more have had the disease. A family history of breast or colon cancer also is associated with an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer.
- About 5 to 10% of ovarian cancers are a part of family cancer syndromes resulting from inherited changes (mutations) in certain genes.
- This syndrome is caused by inherited mutations in the genes BRCA1 and BRCA2.
- The lifetime ovarian cancer risk for women with a BRCA1 mutation is estimated to be between 35% and 70%.
- For women with BRCA2 mutations the risk has been estimated to be between 10% and 30% by age 70.
- If you have family history, speak with your doctor about genetic testing options.
- The Magenta Study offers free genetic testing from your home. CLICK HERE to learn more.
- Age – most ovarian cancers occur in women 50 years of age or older, with the highest risk in women older than 60.
- Non-Childbearing – women who have never had children. In fact, the more children a woman has had, the less likely she is to develop ovarian cancer.
- Personal History – women who have had breast or colon cancer may be at greater risk.
- Obesity – women who are obese have a higher rate of death from ovarian cancer.
- Fertility Drugs – drugs that cause women to ovulate may slightly increase a woman’s risk.
- Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) – some evidence suggests that women who use HRT after menopause may have a slightly increased risk of developing this disease.
Source: American Cancer Society & National Cancer Institute
For a PDF download of our Signs & Symptoms card, click here.
MORE INFORMATION ABOUT OVARIAN CANCER CAN BE OBTAINED BY CONTACTING:
National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health
(800) 422-6237 | cancer.gov
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(800) 232-4636 (800-CDC-INFO) | cdc.gov
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