Hereditary Ovarian Cancer: Towards a Cost-Effective Prevention Strategy

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Sep 23;19(19):12057. doi: 10.3390/ijerph191912057.


Ovarian cancer (OC) is the most lethal gynaecological malignancy. The search for a widely affordable and accessible screening strategy to reduce mortality from OC is still ongoing. This coupled with the late-stage presentation and poor prognosis harbours significant health-economic implications. OC is also the most heritable of all cancers, with an estimated 25% of cases having a hereditary predisposition. Advancements in technology have detected multiple mutations, with the majority affecting the BRCA1 and/or BRCA2 genes. Women with BRCA mutations are at a significantly increased lifetime risk of developing OC, often presenting with a high-grade serous pathology, which is associated with higher mortality due to its aggressive characteristic. Therefore, a targeted, cost-effective approach to prevention is paramount to improve clinical outcomes and mortality. Current guidelines offer multiple preventive strategies for individuals with hereditary OC (HOC), including genetic counselling to identify the high-risk women and risk-reducing interventions (RRI), such as surgical management or chemoprophylaxis through contraceptive medications. Evidence for sporadic OC is abundant as compared to the existing dearth in the hereditary subgroup. Hence, our review article narrates an overview of HOC and explores the RRI developed over the years. It attempts to compare the cost effectiveness of these strategies with women of the general population in order to answer the crucial question: what is the most prudent clinically and economically effective strategy for prevention amongst high-risk women?

Keywords: BRCA; cost effectiveness; genetic testing; guidelines; ovarian cancer; risk-reducing surgery.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Ovarian Epithelial / genetics
  • Contraceptive Agents
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Female
  • Genes, BRCA1
  • Genes, BRCA2
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Mutation
  • Ovarian Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Ovarian Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Ovarian Neoplasms* / prevention & control


  • Contraceptive Agents

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.