Ovarian cancer is rare, but unfortunately has a high mortality rate, because it is usually discovered at an advanced stage. There are few modifiable risk factors and the most appropriate and sensitive screening methods have not been determined. Epidemiology: Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death from gynecological malignancy and the fourth most common cause of cancer death in women. Other gynecological malignancies are usually discovered early, treated, and often cured. In the USA, approximately 70% of women will present with stage III or IV disease. During the period 1994-1999, in the UK there were more than 21,000 deaths caused by ovarian cancer. In the USA in 2005, there were 22,220 new cases of ovarian cancer and 16,210 deaths caused by ovarian cancer. The number of women with ovarian cancer in the USA has increased 30% and the number of ovarian cancer deaths has increased 17%. The effectiveness of treatment for ovarian cancer has not improved significantly. Risk factors. Advancing age is the greatest risk factor. The rate of ovarian cancer rises with age from 15.7/100,000 women at age 40 to 54/100,000 women at age 79. The mean age is 59 years. A genetic disposition or a family history of ovarian cancer is the second greatest risk factor. There are at least three hereditary syndromes. Most breast and ovarian cancer genetic syndrome patients have the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene. The penetration of this gene mutation is 95%, giving a cumulative risk for a woman with this mutation of 63% for developing breast cancer by age 70.
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