1. What do the statistics about ovarian cancer indicate?
Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths among women and is responsible for more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system. The risk of a woman developing ovarian cancer during her lifetime is about 1 in 75. The chance of dying from ovarian cancer during her lifetime is about 1 in 100. (These figures do not include ovarian tumors with low malignant potential). This cancer arises mainly in elderly women. About half of the women diagnosed with ovarian cancer are 63 years or older. It is more common in white women than in black women. The rate of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer has been slowly declining for the past 20 years.
2. What are the risk factors for ovarian cancer?
The risk of ovarian cancer includes any of the following factors:
- Older women have a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer. Most deaths from this cancer occur in women 55 and older.
- The fewer children a woman has and the later in life she gives birth, the higher the risk of developing this type of cancer.
- Women with a personal history of breast cancer or a family history of breast or ovarian cancer have a higher risk of this cancer due to abnormalities in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes.
- Women who take estrogen replacement only (not with progesterone) for 5 years or more may have a higher risk of ovarian cancer. However, birth control pills decrease the risk of this cancer.
3. What are the treatments for ovarian cancer?
Surgery is used to treat all stages of ovarian cancer, chemotherapy is then used to treat any remaining disease. Currently customized therapies have been added requiring that the mutational analysis of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are to be identified.