Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of gynecologic cancer death worldwide (Harries and Gore 2002). It accounts for about 22,430 cancer diagnoses and 15,280 deaths annually in the US (Jemal et al. 2007). However, the incidence rate of ovarian cancer varies internationally (Fig. 1), with lower incidence in Egypt and Japan and higher rates among women in Iceland, northern Europe and North America. It is likely that these variations are due to a number of inherited and environmental factors which have yet to be understood. The potential contributing factors related to ovarian cancer risk are described in more detail below. While a number of prognostic factors influence ovarian cancer survival (e.g. appropriate surgical care, stage of disease at diagnosis, age at diagnosis), if diagnosed in its early stages, ovarian cancer is curable in a high percentage of patients (Table 17.1) (McGuire et al. 2002). Therefore, advances in the early detection, risk reduction and prevention of gynecologic malignancies have a great potential to reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with this disease.
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