Dr. Magtibay, a gynecologic cancer specialist, describes how significantly a family history of ovarian cancer increases the risk for this disease compared to women who have no relatives with ovarian cancer. Dr. Paul Magtibay is an oncologist at Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, Arizona.
Family history and having your physician take a family history is very important in determining a patient’s risk factors for developing ovarian cancer. As I mentioned before, 80 to 85 percent of all ovarian cancers are sporadic, meaning that there is no identifiable family history associated with her developing ovarian cancer.
Those women, people will often times ask me, if I have ovarian cancer, what is the risk that my daughter or my sister or my mother will develop ovarian cancer. And the answer, I can’t really define that just point blank because there are multiple other things we need to look into, such as are there hereditary factors like BRCA-1 and 2 mutations running in your family that really make you at a high risk for developing ovarian cancer in the future.
Again, most people don’t have that hereditary factor and my answer to most people that what is your risk of one relative having it or getting ovarian cancer if you have it? It goes from 1.8 percent, which is the baseline population risk, to only five percent. So if you only have one family member who has ovarian cancer your risk only goes from just less than two percent to five percent. If you have two family members it goes to seven percent.
The difference, though, is people who have the hereditary types of ovarian cancer, meaning that genetically they are at risk for ovarian cancer, those patients are from 15 to 40 percent risk of developing ovarian cancer, so significantly higher risk, and those are the patients that we really need to worry about and know about so we can potentially prevent it.