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Ovarian Cancer Health Center

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Ovarian Cancer Screening (PDQ®): Screening - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Description of the Evidence

Background

Incidence and mortality

Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer death among women in the United States and has the highest mortality rate of all gynecologic cancers.[1] It is estimated that 22,240 new cases of ovarian cancer will be diagnosed in the United States in 2013, and 14,030 women will die of this disease.[1] The median age at diagnosis is 63 years.[2] The prognosis for survival from ovarian cancer largely depends on the extent of disease at diagnosis, which is usually advanced, with only about 15% of women presenting with localized disease at diagnosis.[1,2]

From 2005 to 2009, incidence rates decreased by 0.9% per year, and mortality rates decreased by 2.0% per year.[1]

Ovarian cancer is rare; the lifetime risk of being diagnosed with ovarian cancer is 1.38%.[2]

Types of Ovarian Cancer

The term "ovarian cancer" encompasses a heterogeneous group of malignant tumors of ovarian origin that may arise from germ cells, stromal tissue, or epithelial tissue within the ovary. Epithelial cancers are the most common type of ovarian cancer and are further classified into five main types: high-grade serous, endometrioid, clear cell, mucinous, and low-grade serous carcinomas.[3] What has been thought to be primary ovarian cancer often originates in the fallopian tube or endometrium; in particular, the serous, mucinous, and endometrioid forms of ovarian cancer.[3,4] Detection of epithelial carcinomas, the most common and lethal forms of ovarian cancer, has been the focus of screening programs.

Malignant germ cell tumors and stromal tumors such as granulosa cell tumors are rare and account for 10% or less of malignant ovarian tumors.[4]

Risk Factors

For a complete description of factors associated with an increased or decreased risk of ovarian cancer, refer to the Nonhereditary Factors Associated With an Increased Risk of Ovarian Cancer section in the PDQ summary on Ovarian Cancer Prevention for more information. Several cancer family syndromes, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2 hereditary breast-ovarian syndrome and Lynch syndrome are associated with a marked increased risk of ovarian cancer.[4,5] (Refer to the Autosomal Dominant Inheritance of Breast/Ovarian Cancer Predisposition section in the PDQ summary on Genetics of Breast and Ovarian Cancer for more information about these syndromes and risk of ovarian cancer, which also includes a summary of other known risk factors for ovarian cancer.)

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