Ovarian Cancer Risk Factors And Gene Mutations Every Woman Should Understand

Sometimes referred to as the “silent killer,” ovarian cancer will take the lives of approximately 14,000 women in the United States in 2020 alone. Most women have approximately a 1-in-70 chance of developing ovarian cancer.

When detected early (Stage 1-Stage 1C), five-year survival rates are actually fairly high, at 85-90%. When detected in later stages, these rates drop drastically to 17-39%. Unfortunately, according to the American Cancer Society, only about twenty percent of ovarian cancer cases are diagnosed in early stages.

If you have the following risk factors, you are at the aforementioned risk level, which is similar to that of the general population of women:

  • Age (according to Memorial Sloan Kettering, the average age of diagnosis is 62)
  • Never Having Had Children
  • Endometriosis
  • A History of Infertility
  • Use of Assisted Reproductive Therapies (IVF)

If you have the following risk factors, you are at an increased risk:

  • A Family History of Breast or Ovarian Cancer
  • A Personal History of Breast Cancer Before Age 40
  • Two or More Close Relatives Diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer
  • Both Ashkenazi Jewish Heritage and a Personal History of Breast Cancer Before Age 40

If you have one (or more) of these genetic mutations, you are at high risk:

  • A BRCA1 or BRCA2 Gene Mutation: Individuals with the BRCA1 gene mutation have a 40-60% risk of developing ovarian cancer by age 85. Individuals with the BRCA2 gene mutation have a 16-27% risk of developing ovarian cancer by old age.
  • Lynch Syndrome: a genetic disorder that increases an individual’s risk of developing a number of different cancers; and individuals with this syndrome have a 6-8% risk of developing ovarian cancer. 

If you are not experiencing symptoms, but you fall under the increased risk or high risk categories, you should also consult with your care team to schedule regular screenings.


This is an excerpt from a post written by Food Period and originally published on September 12, 2019.

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