Facts about Breast and Ovarian Cancer
Breast cancer is a common disease affecting approximately one in eight, or 13 percent of women in the United States. Risk for developing breast cancer is dependent upon a combination of lifestyle and certain personal risk factors. The majority of breast cancer cases are sporadic, or due to a random combination of genetic and environmental cancers.
While most women with breast cancer and ovarian cancer develop cancer as a result of non-inherited factors, a small number of women will inherit a significant risk of developing these cancers because of a mutation in a specific gene.
Gene Mutations and Risk Factors
The two genes most commonly associated with an increased risk for breast and ovarian cancer are called BRCA1 and BRCA2. Individuals with mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2 are at a greater risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer.
Men can also inherit these mutations and have a higher risk for breast cancer than the average man. There also may be an increased risk for several other types of cancer in men and/or women, such as pancreatic, colon and prostate cancer.
Risk Managment Programs at Penn Medicine
When a person is found to be at higher risk for cancer, an individualized cancer risk management program is developed.
Cancer risk management includes more intensive screening to increase the chances of early cancer detection, preventive or risk-reducing surgical procedures and
chemoprevention (taking medications to decrease cancer risk). These steps can ultimately reduce the risk of developing cancer and potentially be life-saving.
One Step Ahead: An Education and Support Group for Women at High Risk for Cancer
The One Step Ahead Program
is an education and support group
for those who are genetically at
high risk for certain cancers, such
as breast, ovarian, colon or uterine
Created in 2003, the
program is as a way to provide
education and support to those at
high risk for breast cancer. It is
coordinated by Beth Souders, a
genetic counselor and the Cancer
Risk Evaluation Program (CREP) Coordinator at Pennsylvania
Hospital and Helen Coons, PhD,
Benefits of the program
include networking with others
facing similar issues and staying
up-to-date on new advances in the
field, including information about
screening techniques and medications
that may help reduce cancer risk.
meets three times per year in the evening.
Each meeting begins with a light dinner
and introductions, followed by a
guest speaker and open discussion.
To learn more or to register
for the One Step Ahead Program,
To learn more, visit the Cancer
Risk Evaluation Program at Pennsylvania Hospital web site or call