Does ovarian cancer run in my family?

Importance of knowing your family’s medical history

Could family history make a woman more prone to ovarian cancer? The short answer is a resounding yes!

Each year, more than 200,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with breast cancer and more than 20,000 are diagnosed with ovarian cancer. The latest research shows that about 5-10% of breast cancers and 25% of ovarian cancers result from inherited mutations (changes) in genes that are passed down from mothers or fathers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Currently, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network recommends genetic testing to all women diagnosed with ovarian cancer, regardless of her age or family history. The best way to understand these testing options, and who in a family is the best candidate for testing is to meet with a genetic counselor. Genetic counselors can provide a thorough risk assessment as well as a discussion of what the results mean for a patient diagnosed with cancer, as well as their entire family.

Genetic counseling and testing helps patients make informed choices, so they can access increased screening and prevention options to manage or reduce risks of cancer and increase your chances of survival.

Consider genetic counseling for ovarian cancer risk if you:

  • Were diagnosed with breast cancer before age 45
  • Were diagnosed with ovarian cancer at any age
  • Have a male relative with breast cancer
  • Have a blood relative with a mutation in a cancer risk gene (like BRCA 1 or 2)
  • Have two or more close blood relatives – on either mother’s or father’s side – who had breast cancer before age 50 or ovarian cancer at any age
  • Are of Ashkenazi or Eastern European Jewish descent
  • Have a close relative on either side of the family (sister/brother, father/mother, aunt/uncle, grandparent) who meets any of these criteria
  • Meet any of the above criteria and previously had genetic testing for the BRCA 1 and 2 genes that was negative 

Read more about Northside Hospital’s Gynecologic Cancer Program, including latest treatment options and how to determine your hereditary risk.

 

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