Taking Charge

Breast and ovarian cancers are the most worrisome of the "women's cancers." Each year more than 175,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer, and more than 25,000 with ovarian cancer. Even though many fewer women get ovarian cancer, it claims proportionately more lives. One-third of women who develop breast cancer will die from the disease, but more than 60 percent of women who get ovarian cancer will die of it.

These are frightening statistics, but they are important to know. Knowledge may lead you to take action to protect your health and that of other women you care about — your mother, daughters, relatives and friends. After you read this booklet, you will better understand factors that increase or decrease a woman's risk of developing breast and ovarian cancers, and what can be done to improve the chances that if cancer develops, it is found at an early stage. You will also learn something about how these cancers are treated.

By the Numbers

The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that in 1999, 175,000 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in U.S. women, and that the disease will claim 43,300 lives. In the same year the ACS estimates that 25,200 new cases of ovarian cancer will be diagnosed in the United States, and 14,500 women will die of the disease.

Breast Cancer Is...

  • The most common cancer in U.S. women, after skin cancer
  • Second only to lung cancer in cancer deaths
  • The leading cause of cancer death in women age 40 to 55

Ovarian Cancer Is...

  • The fifth most common cancer among U.S. women
  • The fifth most common cause of cancer death in U.S. women
  • Responsible for more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system

Learn More

Read these other sections to learn more about breast and ovarian cancer:


Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or health care provider. We encourage you to discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns you may have.