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ACS Research Highlights

Family History Affects Risk for Developing Ovarian Cancer

The risk of developing ovarian cancer increases greatly with a family history of ovarian cancer or breast cancer.

Women whose ovarian cancer is diagnosed before it has spread have a 90% chance of living for at least another 5 years. But, about 4 of 5 women with ovarian cancer aren’t diagnosed until the cancer has already spread. That’s why one important research priority is aimed at improving the ability to find ovarian cancer early.

How Family History Affects Risk

The American Cancer Society’s Surveillance & Health Equity Science department produced a special report on ovarian cancer  with the 2018 Cancer Facts & Figures report. It included these facts about  the risk for developing ovarian cancer:

  • A woman whose mother, full sibling, or child has a history of ovarian cancer has a 4 times higher risk of developing it too. A woman whose grandmother, granddaughter, aunt, niece, or half-siblings has a history of ovarian cancer has a 2 times higher risk.
  • A woman whose mother, full sibling, or child has a history of breast cancer increases a woman’s risk for ovarian cancer by about 70%.
  • Almost 40% of ovarian cancer cases in women with a family history are due to mutations in the cancer susceptibility genes BRCA1 and BRCA2.

Why It Matters

These statistics about ovarian cancers provide policy makers, researchers, clinicians, cancer control advocates, patients, caregivers, and public health professionals with key data to know where improvements have been made and where more support is needed.