Epidemiological and Genetic Factors Associated With Ovarian Cancer

Monica R. McLemore, RN, MPH; Christine Miaskowski, RN, PhD, FAAN; Bradley E. Aouizerat, PhD, MAS; Lee-may Chen, MD; Marylin J. Dodd, RN, PhD, FAAN


Cancer Nurs. 2009;32(4):281-288. 

In This Article

Epidemiology of Epithelial Ovarian Cancer

Much of the research on ovarian cancer has focused on the epidemiology of the disease because of its high mortality rate, the lack of experimental models (ovarian cancer is rare in other ovulatory animals), the small numbers of patients impacted by the disease, and the emphasis on hereditary cases.[1,9,13] According to the National Cancer Institute, a woman without a family history of ovarian cancer has a 1 in 55 lifetime chance of developing ovarian cancer.[1] This risk increases 10-fold when known familial/hereditary conditions exist.[1,13,21]

Sporadic epithelial ovarian cancer is defined as any ovarian cancer that arises in a woman with no known family history of breast, ovarian, prostate, or colon cancer[13] and is a distinct disease from sex cord-stromal ovarian tumors and germ cell tumors, which are not discussed in this review. Hereditary ovarian cancer (HOC) may be associated with different genetic defects: (1) hereditary breast cancer and HOC (HBOC/HOC) is attributable to a germ-line mutation in BRCA1 or BRCA2 and (2) hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC) or Lynch syndrome is due to a germ-line mutation in one of several genes associated with DNA mismatch repair (MMR).[22,23]


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