The most common form of ovarian cancer is called 'high grade serous cancer'. One in ten women with this form of cancer carry a gene alteration. Alterations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes can cause inherited predispositions to cancer and this is sometimes more prevalent within certain populations including people with Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry, who also have an increased risk of ovarian cancer.
Another possibility for increased cancer risk is Lynch Syndrome, also known as nonpolyposis colon cancer. This is also an hereditary disorder caused by a gene mutation and people with this syndrome have a higher risk of developing endometrial, colorectal and other forms of aggressive cancers at a younger age. Up to a million people in the US alone are known to be affected by Lynch Syndrome.
Ovarian cancer expert, Dr Adam Rosenthal says, "If there is a strong family history of bowel and/or endometrial (womb-lining) cancer, then this should raise the possibility of a different inherited predisposition to cancer, known as Lynch Syndrome. Women with this condition also have an increased risk of ovarian cancer."
The patient organisation Lynch Syndrome point out that lives can be saved through awareness and proactive testing, and this starts by knowing your family history. The second step is to discuss the potential for genetic screening.If the risk is confronted and then identified it is then possible to put preventative measures in place. For example, in some case oopherectomy, which has the added benefit of reducing both ovarian as well as risk of breast cancer might be appropriate.
As Dr Rosenthal explains, "This situation requires expert advice form a specialist with an interest in this area of medicine. Most gynaecological oncologists (gynaecologists specialising in the treatment of cancer) have experience of advising women with an increased risk of ovarian cancer.".
A common name for the large and/or small intestines. Full medical glossary
Abnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. Full medical glossary
The large intestine. Full medical glossary
Relating to the endometrium. Full medical glossary
The basic unit of genetic material carried on chromosomes. Full medical glossary
Relating to the genes, the basic units of genetic material. Full medical glossary
A change in the genetic material (DNA) of a cell, or the change this this causes in a characteristic of the individual, which is not caused by normal genetic processes. Full medical glossary
A specialist in the treatment of cancer. Full medical glossary
relating to the ovaries Full medical glossary
Female reproductive organs situated one on either side of the uterus (womb). They produce egg cells (ova) and hormones in a monthly cycle. Full medical glossary
A growth on the surface of a mucous membrane (a surface that secretes mucus, lining any body cavity that opens to the outside of the body). Full medical glossary
Relating to the rectum, the lowest part of the bowel leading to the anus. Full medical glossary
A way to identify people who may have a certain condition, among a group of people who may or may not seem to Full medical glossary
The uterus. Full medical glossary