Ovarian Cancer: Are You at Risk?

Patient Expert

Many women with breast cancer are also at increased risk for ovarian cancer. Do you know your risk, and the symptoms of this dangerous cancer?

According to the American Cancer Society, ovarian cancer (cancer of the ovaries, a woman’s egg production organs) is the fifth most deadly cancer for women, and the most dangerous reproductive system cancer. More than 14,000 American women will die of ovarian cancer this year.

The average woman’s lifetime risk for ovarian cancer is one in 75. A greater number of older women (aged 60 and up) are diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and the disease is more common in white women than in African-American women.



Though there are other risk factors, genetics plays a strong role in the development of ovarian cancer.

Women carrying BRCA gene mutations have a lifetime ovarian cancer risk of between 35 and 70 percent. And breast cancer survivors, or those with a strong family history, may be at increased genetic risk, even if they don’t carry the BRCA gene mutations. Researchers continue to identify gene mutations beyond BRCA that may increase the risk of both breast and ovarian cancer.

All women should know and recognize the symptoms of ovarian cancer, but it’s especially important if you think you may be at higher risk. Unfortunately, ovarian cancer shares symptoms with many more common conditions, so these symptoms are often ignored until it’s too late and the cancer has spread.

If any of the listed symptoms are new for you, and they happen regularly for longer than a few weeks, see your doctor.

See more helpful articles:

A Guide to Breast Cancer Symptoms

BRCA Genetic Testing: Yes or No?

Stay Healthy – Keep Moving!

Risks and Benefits: Understanding the Statistics That Affect You