The average age of diagnosis of this pathology, which is incorporated in the Plan Auge, it is of 63 years. In the year 2010 is registered in Chile 423 deaths due to this cause.

Expert: Jorge Brañes, specialist in gynecologic oncology Network Health UC

In our country the treatment of ovarian cancer is very high cost due to the complex surgical treatment and the value of the drugs used in chemotherapy, out-of-pocket from now on will not be made by the patient and his family thanks to the fact that this pathology was incorporated recently to the Plan Auge, which in the opinion of dr. Jorge Brañes, specialist in gynecologic oncology Network Health UC, is the main advantage of this measure.

While in Chile the data on the incidence of this disease are partial, because they only exist in some regions, “we can say, extrapolating those data, that ovarian cancer occupies the 2nd place in frequencyafter cervical cancer,” says dr. Brañes.

At the national level, in the year 2010, there were 423 deaths from this cause, which corresponds to a rate of 4.9 per 100,000 women.
“Our country has an intermediate position when compared with the rest of the countries,” said the specialist, adding that the scandinavian countries have rates of incidence of 15/100.000 women, in both the asian countries to 4.5/100.000.

The average age of diagnosis is 63 years.

Causes and risk factors

Ovarian cancer -explains dr. Brañes - is a malignant lesion that compromises the ovary, and that it develops the various tissues that make up this body:

  • epithelium celómico: sheet of cells that cover the ovary
  • germ cells: cells that form the eggs
  • stroma: cells producing hormones

The most common of all -90%- is of epithelial origin, the gynecologist of Network Health at UC.

The vast majority of epithelial cancers are presented in advanced stage (70%), that is to say with metastasis to other abdominal organs or disease outside the abdominal cavity.

The risk factors can be varied. The most powerful -although is only responsible for 10% of ovarian cancers - is inherited.

  • syndrome of hereditary ovarian cancer family
  • diet rich in fats of animal origin
  • nulliparity (woman who has not given birth)
  • hormone replacement therapy (menopause)
  • menarche early
  • late menopause
  • smoking

Protective factors

  • use of hormonal contraceptives for more than 5 years, during the reproductive life of the woman
  • surgical sterilization
  • healthy life style
  • diet poor in saturated fats
  • multiparidad
  • breastfeeding


Most of the patients with epithelial ovarian cancer are asymptomatic for long periods of time, and when these are developed, they are usually vague and nonspecific.

“In the early stages of the disease, the patient may experience menstruation abnormal, increased urinary frequency and urgency, rectal (continual desire, painful and ineffective bowel movements) or constipation, if the tumor compresses the rectum or the bladder. The cases of acute abdomen due to torsion of the tumor, are rare. In case of advanced disease, patients may have abdominal distention, constipation, nausea, anorexia, and early satiety. The patients perimenopaúsicas may present with irregular periods,” he explains.

Unfortunately ovarian cancer is not a preventable disease. There are no methods that allow an early diagnosis. Therefore the patients with high-risk (ovarian cancer Syndrome hereditary familial) should be monitored in specialized centers.

“Once suspected the disease, the patient should be referred to specialized centers to be treated by gynecologic oncologists and medical oncologists,” says dr. Brañes, by pointing out that there are 2 fundamental pillars of treatment:

  1. surgery
  2. chemotherapy

“In ovarian cancer early, the treatment is always surgical and should sometimes be complemented with chemotherapy. In the case of advanced ovarian cancer the treatment is always surgery and chemotherapy complementary. Occasionally begins with chemotherapy to be followed by surgery, and this in turn followed by chemotherapy”.

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