Facts About Ovarian Cancer

September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.

Ovarian cancer is cancer that forms in tissues of the ovary (one of a pair of female reproductive glands in which the ova, or eggs, are formed). Most ovarian cancers are either ovarian epithelial carcinomas (cancer that begins in the cells on the surface of the ovary) or malignant germ cell tumors (cancer that begins in egg cells).

While there is no cure for ovarian cancer yet, Penn Medicine is at the forefront of discovering new treatments for ovarian cancer, and learning about a woman's risk for developing ovarian cancer through research at the Basser Research Center for BRCA 1 and 2.

Facts about Ovarian Cancer

  • 1 in 57 women in the United States will develop ovarian cancer.
  • Over 21,000 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the Unites States this year.
  • Two-thirds of women with ovarian cancer are age 55 or older at the time of diagnosis.
  • 10 to15 percent of ovarian cancers are inherited, and women with a family history are at an increased risk.
  • Ovarian cancer is the deadliest cancer among women and is the 5th leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women.
  • Most women have advanced disease at the time of diagnosis because ovarian cancer may have no symptoms in its early stages.
  • The majority of women with ovarian cancer fail conventional chemotherapy.
  • Personalized immunotherapy using the patient's tumor to derive cancer vaccines and cell–based therapeutics is a promising new approach to treat ovarian cancer.
  • The Penn Ovarian Cancer Research Center is working to establish an Ovarian Cancer Tumor Center to facilitate the procurement of ovarian tumor tissue at the time of surgery. Cells from the tumor issue can then be used to develop personalized vaccine therapies, which could eventually lead to improved survival and quality of life for women with ovarian cancer.

Do you know your risk for ovarian cancer?

The lifetime risk of developing certain types of cancer is greatly increased for women and men who inherit a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation.

Men and women can learn if they have the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation by getting evaluated at the Mariann and Robert MacDonald Cancer Risk Evaluation Center. There, men and women receive expert genetic counseling and education about their results, and the impact those results may have on their family.

This multidisciplinary program also provides long term care from medical oncologists with genetics expertise.

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The Focus on Cancer blog discusses a variety of cancer-related topics, including treatment advances, research efforts and clinical trials, nutrition, support groups, survivorship and patient stories.

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