Racial/ethnic disparities in ovarian cancer research

Adv Cancer Res. 2020:146:1-21. doi: 10.1016/bs.acr.2020.01.002. Epub 2020 Feb 24.


Ovarian cancer is one of the most fatal cancers diagnosed in women in the United States (U.S.). Data from national databases, including the Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) program, show racial/ethnic differences in risk and survival of epithelial ovarian cancer with higher incidence among white women yet worse survival among African-American women compared to other racial/ethnic groups. The reasons for these differences are not well understood, but are likely multi-factorial. Epidemiologic studies suggest there may be some risk factor differences across racial/ethnic groups that would explain differences in the incidence of this rare and heterogeneous disease. Likewise, although data suggest that socioeconomic factors and access to care contribute to the disparity in ovarian cancer survival among African-American women, there are likely other contributing factors that have not as of yet been identified. Small sample sizes of minority women from individual studies do not provide adequate power to evaluate fully the contributions of environmental, genetic, and clinical factors associated with ovarian cancer risk and survival within these groups. Pooling existing data from individual epidemiologic studies has made a valuable contribution; however, new data collection is warranted to further our understanding of the underpinnings of the disparities in ovarian cancer that may lead to prevention and improved survival across all racial/ethnic groups.

Keywords: Access to care; Genetic susceptibility; Ovarian cancer; Race/ethnicity; Risk and survival disparities.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Delivery of Health Care, Integrated / standards*
  • Ethnicity / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Healthcare Disparities / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / therapy
  • Prognosis
  • SEER Program
  • United States / epidemiology