Women who have a family history of ovarian cancer are at an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer. Anything that increases your risk of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Women who have one first-degree relative (mother, daughter, or sister) with ovarian cancer are at an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer. This risk is higher in women who have one first-degree relative and one second-degree relative (grandmother or aunt) with ovarian cancer. This risk is even higher in women who have two or more first-degree relatives with ovarian cancer.
Some ovarian cancers are caused by inherited gene mutations (changes). The genes in cells carry the hereditary information that is received from a person’s parents. Hereditary ovarian cancer makes up approximately 5% to 10% of all cases of ovarian cancer. Three hereditary patterns have been identified: ovarian cancer alone, ovarian and breast cancers, and ovarian and colon cancers.
Tests that can detect mutated genes have been developed. These genetic tests are sometimes done for members of families with a high risk of cancer.
Ovarian cancer is the second most common gynecologic cancer in the United States and the leading cause of death from gynecologic cancer. The lifetime risk of developing the cancer is 1.4% in the general population.
Treatment is more successful if the ovarian cancer is diagnosed early and if found in younger women (less than 67 years old). Removal of all the cancer during surgery impacts the chance of survival.