A New Direction in Preventing Ovarian Cancer
We can’t yet cure ovarian cancer, but there are strategies to potentially prevent it. With no early detection test — and important research demonstrating that in most cases, detecting ovarian cancer even 18-24 months earlier, well before symptoms begin, does not improve mortality — we must focus on strategies that DO work and can effect real change and save lives.
- 20% of ovarian cancers are caused by a genetic mutation — it’s imperative to know risk, as well as prophylactic options for those with a mutation.
- 70% of the most common and lethal ovarian cancer begins in the fallopian tubes. Research shows that removing the fallopian tubes when having another pelvic surgery such as a hysterectomy or tubal ligation, and leaving the ovaries intact, can help prevent ovarian cancer.
The Society of Gynecologic Oncology (SGO) has endorsed this messaging — read our consensus statement.
Understand Your Risk
Many factors can increase or decrease the risk of developing ovarian cancer. Having a family history of breast, ovarian, uterine or colorectal cancer increases your risk, as does having an inherited genetic mutation. Pregnancy, breastfeeding and the use of oral contraceptives, on the other hand, have been shown to decrease risk. Learn more about the causes and risk factors of ovarian cancer and find out how you can help spread the word to your community about ways to lower the risk of getting the disease.
Get Genetic Testing
Studies show nearly 20% of ovarian cancer patients have an inherited genetic mutation that was likely the cause of their disease. This is one of the highest percentages of inherited mutations among any cancer. The BRCA 1 and 2 mutations are the most common, but there are other genetic mutations as well.
Genetic testing is extremely important because if you have an inherited mutation that increases your risk for ovarian or another gynecologic cancer, there are several things you can do to lower it.
And for those who have already been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, NCCN (National Comprehensive Cancer Network) guidelines recommend both germline (inherited) and somatic (acquired) testing because having certain gene mutations may impact the type of treatment you receive. Note: If you’ve had genetic testing prior to 2013, you may need to be tested again.
Answer a few questions to see if you’re eligible for our free genetic testing program.
If you didn’t qualify for our program but have a history of ovarian, breast, uterine/endometrial, and/or colorectal cancers in your extended family on either side, have a relative with a genetic mutation, or are of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry, talk to your doctor about genetic testing. Even if you’re just concerned about possible mutations, have a conversation with your doctor.
OCRA offers free genetic testing! Find out if you qualify with our short questionnaire.Do I qualify?
Read more about genetic testing and genetic mutations. And then scroll down to learn how you may be able to prevent ovarian cancer.
The Genetic Testing Process: FAQs
How does genetic testing work? Who should get tested? Get answers to commonly asked questions about what to expect and what to consider.
Genetic Mutations and Ovarian Cancer
While BRCA is the most common, researchers have also identified additional genetic mutations, such as Lynch Syndrome, that elevate a person’s risk.
The Science of Genetics and Genomics
What’s the difference between germline and somatic testing? Are genetic and genomic testing the same thing? Find answers to your genetic testing questions here.
Learn About Preventative Actions
Scientists have discovered that at least 70% of the most common and lethal form of ovarian cancer actually begins in the fallopian tubes. And these precursor lesions develop long before any symptoms would be experienced.
If you are at increased risk for ovarian cancer and are done with childbearing, you should absolutely consider bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy (removal of both fallopian tubes and ovaries), but if you want to avoid surgical menopause, a bilateral salpingectomy removes just the tubes and keeps the ovaries in place. This procedure has also been shown to dramatically lower risk.
If you are at average risk for ovarian cancer and have a planned pelvic surgery (i.e. tubal ligation, hysterectomy), discuss with your doctor the possibility of removing your fallopian tubes at this time (ovaries can be left intact). This is known as an opportunistic salpingectomy (OS), and current research suggests OS can prevent most high-grade serous ovarian cancers that arise in the fallopian tubes.
Discuss with your doctor these and other preventative measures.
Our focus remains to fund the best medical research to better understand how ovarian cancer starts, the different types, better treatments and ultimately, a cure. Concurrently, we will do everything we can to prevent women from ever getting the disease…until there’s a cure.
Early Detection & Screening
Learn about the differences between screening and early detection, how the CA-125 blood test is used, and what’s on the horizon.
Beyond the Ovary: Perspectives on Science, Clinical Progress and Advocacy
Find out why top scientists, and OCRA, now believe that in order to cure ovarian cancer, we need to look beyond the ovaries.
Consensus Statement from OCRA and SGO
Read our statement, endorsed by the Society of Gynecologic Oncology, on the future of early detection and recommendations for prevention and treatment.