If you have had a diagnosis of ovarian cancer, it is a common reaction to worry that other family members may be at risk. Or if a family member has ovarian cancer, you may be worried about the risk to yourself. In most situations, ovarian cancer is a sporadic or ‘one-off’ illness that is not an inherited disease. But in up to 20 per cent of cases ovarian cancer can be hereditary and run in the family.
Some families carry a ‘faulty’ or mutated gene, which is often the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene. It is passed through the generations from parent to child, and can be inherited through the mother or father’s side of the family. Mutations in the BRCA genes put family members at greater risk of developing both ovarian and breast cancer.