The three most common types of ovarian cancer are:
- Epithelial tumours which originate in the cells that cover the outside of the ovary. This is the most frequent type of ovarian cancer accounting for approximately 90% of the cases. It is most common in women over the age of 60 but can develop at any age.
- Germ cell tumours which originate in the egg-producing cells and are found within the ovary. This type of cancer is most common in adolescents and women under the age of 30. It accounts for about 5% of all ovarian cancers.
- Sex cord stromal tumours develop in the connective tissue that holds the ovary together and produces the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. It is relatively rare accounting for 5% of ovarian tumours.
People who inherit the defective BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes are at a significantly higher lifetime risk of developing breast and/or ovarian cancer. Therefore screening for these genetic defects becomes an important tool for the ovarian cancer patient themselves and her family. Please refer to Genetic Testing under the Hope and Healing tab on the website for more details.
Prevention of inherited breast cancer usually involves heightened breast screening, possible use of drugs such as Tamoxifen, possible removal of the breasts. Prevention of inherited ovarian cancer usually involves prophylactic removal of the fallopian tubes and ovaries.