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Understanding BRCA & HBOC > Cancer Treatment > Ovarian Cancer Treatment

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BRCA & HBOC
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Ovarian Cancer Treatment

Learn how genetic test results may affect medical decisions about cancer treatment.”

Types of ovarian cancer

Every woman diagnosed with ovarian cancer meets national expert guidelines for genetic counseling and testing for an inherited mutation. 

There are several different types of ovarian cancer that can be categorized based on where the cancer originated. Many cancers that involve the ovary may actually begin in the fallopian tube before moving to the ovary and spreading throughout the abdomen. These cancers behave the same way and are treated similarly. Ovarian cancers in people who are affected by hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC) due to mutations in BRCA, BRIP1, RAD51C, RAD51D, or other genes can be classified as:

  • ovarian cancer
  • fallopian tube cancer
  • primary peritoneal cancer

There are also several subtypes of ovarian cancer based on the cell type that comprises the cancer. Identifying the specific subtype affects treatment options and prognosis. The subtypes include:

  • serous
  • endometrioid
  • clear cell
  • mucinous

Most HBOC-related ovarian cancers, including those in women with a BRCA mutation, belong to the subtype called serous ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer in women with Lynch Syndrome can be one of a number of different subtypes including serous, endometrioid, clear cell, and mucinous. In the ovarian cancer treatment section, when we discuss ovarian cancer we are referring to serous ovarian cancer.

Ovarian cancer treatment also depends on the stage of disease.  Some ovarian cancers are found at very early stages, such as during risk-reducing surgeries for women at high risk for hereditary ovarian cancer, and can be treated by surgery alone.  Most ovarian cancers are found at later stages and require both surgery and chemotherapy

 updated 12/23/16

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