Advertisement

How does a germline mutation affect my risk of ovarian cancer?

David A. Fishman, MD
Gynecologic Oncology
The hereditary cancer susceptibility genes that have been identified in ovarian cancer are highly penetrant, meaning that mutations lead to a risk of developing cancer that is significantly above average. Since cancer is a multi-step process, the presence of a germline mutation (inherited from a parent at the time of conception and present in every cell of the body) makes a person essentially "one step closer" to cancer from the time of birth than the average person, thereby increasing the chance of early-onset cancer and multiple primary cancers.

Although a significant risk factor, a germline mutation does not guarantee that cancer will develop. The likelihood that an individual who inherits a mutation will ultimately develop cancer is dependent on other factors that influence the occurrence of subsequent mutations, such as modifier genes and poorly understood diet, lifestyle and environmental factors.

Continue Learning about Ovarian Cancer

Caring for a Partner With Ovarian Cancer
Caring for a Partner With Ovarian Cancer
As you walk beside your partner on her ovarian cancer journey, some days—or moments—may feel more difficult than others. And as hard as you feel you’r...
Read More
Why is ovarian cancer difficult to detect in the early stages?
Dr. David A. Fishman, MDDr. David A. Fishman, MD
Early stage epithelial ovarian cancer is extremely difficult to detect, as evidenced by the fact tha...
More Answers
What is the role of prostasin in ovarian cancer?
David A. Fishman, MDDavid A. Fishman, MD
Prostasin is a trypsin-like serine protease with a molecular weight of 40-kDa. It is physiologic...
More Answers
If a Woman Is Diagnosed with Breast Cancer, Does She Have a Risk for Ovarian Cancer?
If a Woman Is Diagnosed with Breast Cancer, Does She Have a Risk for Ovarian Cancer?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.