cancer is estimated to affect more than 22,000 women each year
and is the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths among women,
according to American Cancer Society.
other gynecologic cancers, there are no screening tests for
ovarian cancer. While some women diagnosed with ovarian cancer
have elevated levels of the CA 125 protein, the associated
blood test is not accurate enough for ovarian cancer
screening, as many noncancerous conditions can increase the CA
cancer is hard to detect in its early stages due to its vague
symptoms. Women may experience constipation, bloating, early
satiety after eating and back pain. While ovarian cancer tends
to occur in post menopausal women, anyone can be at risk. A
number of factors, including smoking, endometriosis,
polycystic ovary disease, and obesity can raise a woman’s
risk for the disease.
percent of all ovarian cancers are caused by a genetic
mutation. The genes most likely to increase the risk of
ovarian cancer are BRCA1 and BRCA2. These genes also affect a
woman’s risk of breast cancer. Genetic mutations that cause
Lynch syndrome, an inherited condition associated with colon
cancer, also raise a woman’s risk of ovarian cancer.
past two decades, there were few options to treat ovarian
cancer other than surgery and chemotherapy. And recurrence of
the disease was common.
cancer, thankfully, does respond really nicely to surgery and
chemotherapy. But unfortunately, in roughly 70 percent of
patients, we do see recurrence," says Dr. Andrea Wahner
Hendrickson, a Mayo Clinic oncologist.
thanks to research by Wahner Hendrickson and her colleagues,
patients now have additional — and sometimes more effective
— options for treatment, including individualized medical
therapy and immunotherapy.
there are more than 1,350 clinical trials for ovarian cancer,
including a vaccine trial aimed at preventing recurrence.
not all tumors respond to every treatment, Dr. Wahner
Hendrickson recommends all ovarian cancer patients undergo
genetic testing to see which therapy might work best or them.
to the innovations, I think there’s a lot of promise and
hope in the treatment of ovarian cancer," says Wahner
encourages women of all ages to see their physician if they
experience abnormal signs or symptoms.