Cancer of the ovaries

In Denmark around 500 women are diagnosed each year with cancer of the ovaries. With a survival rate of 40 per cent after five years, this is the deadliest form of abdominal cancer. In 20 per cent of ovarian cancer cases, the cause is hereditary, in the form of gene mutations (HBOC). These mutations greatly increase the risk of developing ovarian cancer.

Women at risk are offered regular screening, which involves examinations with ultrasound scans of the ovaries and a blood test. Most of them are advised to have preventive surgery to remove the ovaries and fallopian tubes, and the more serious the mutation, the earlier this advice is given. It is an extremely radical procedure, which brings on an early menopause, infertility and the risk of sexual disturbances, followed by the negative psychological and psychosocial consequences of being unable to have children from a young age, and becoming prematurely “old” due to the menopause.

It is therefore crucial that the decision whether to undergo surgery or continue screening is based on a reliable assessment of the risk for the individual woman. Targeted genetic diagnosis is now available, which can be used to improve and optimise diagnosis and risk stratification, and thus treatment for the women.

“With the grant from the Vissing Foundation we can complete our research into ovarian cancer, have our data published in recognised journals and present the project results at international conferences,” says Julie Isabelle Plougmann Gislinge, registrar at the Herlev and Gentofte Hospital department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.