Ovarian cancer is the most deadly cancer of the female reproductive system. Often known as “the silent killer,” ovarian cancer is difficult to detect early because the ovaries are deep within the pelvis and initial symptoms are often ambiguous. Too often the cancer goes undiagnosed until after the disease is far advanced and has spread throughout the abdomen or to distant organs. After the cancer has metastasized, survival rates plummet because the current treatments are largely ineffective in fighting late-stage ovarian cancer. More effective treatments and better early detection tools must be developed to meet the unmet needs of ovarian cancer patients and save their lives.
Heredity and Genetic Factors: An estimated 5-10% of ovarian cancers are due to inherited gene mutations. Women with a family history of ovarian cancer are at increased risk of developing the disease.
Environmental or Non-Genetic Factors: Factors linked with a reduced risk of ovarian cancer include use of oral contraceptives, tubal sterilization, an increasing number of full-term pregnancies and breastfeeding. A factor that may increase the risk of ovarian cancer is use of postmenopausal hormones. Smoking has been reported to increase the risk of mucinous ovarian cancer but not other types of ovarian cancer.