Ovarian Cancer Canada

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Misperceptions of Ovarian Cancer Risk in Women at Increased Risk for Hereditary Ovarian Cancer

“A large number of women at increased risk for ovarian cancer overestimate their risk. This is of concern…” 

Meiser B, Price MA, Butow PN, Rahman B, Tucker K, Cheah B, Bickerstaffe A, Hopper J, Phillips KA.



This study assessed the sociodemographic, medical and psychological predictors of accuracy of perceived risk in women at increased genetic risk for ovarian cancer. Women participating in a large cohort study who were at increased risk of ovarian and fallopian tube cancer, had no personal history of cancer and had ≥1 ovary in situ at cohort enrolment, were eligible. Women completed self-administered questionnaires and attended an interview at enrolment.

Of 2,868 women unaffected with cancer at cohort enrolment, 561 were eligible. 335 women (59.8 %) overestimated their ovarian cancer risk, while 215 women (38.4 %) accurately estimated their risk, and 10 (1.8 %) underestimated it.

Women who did not know their mutation status were more likely to overestimate their risk (OR 1.74, 95 % CI 1.10, 2.77, p = 0.018), as were those with higher cancer-specific anxiety (OR 1.05, 95 % CI 1.02, 1.08, p < 0.001) and/or a mother who had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer (OR 1.98, 95 % CI 1.23, 3.18, p = 0.005).

Amongst the group of women who did not know their mutation status, 63.3 % overestimated their risk and the mean perceived lifetime risk of developing ovarian cancer was 42.1 %, compared to a mean objective risk of 6.4 %.

A large number of women at increased risk for ovarian cancer overestimate their risk. This is of concern especially in women who are at moderately increased risk only; for this sub-group of women, interventions are needed to reduce potentially unnecessary psychological distress and minimise engagement in unnecessary surgery or screening.


This entry was posted on October 16, 2013 by in Research Updates and tagged , , .

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