A woman who has certain inherited or acquired gene mutations may be at an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer than one who does not. These gene mutations can cause an individual to have less of certain proteins encoded by tumor suppressor genes in their body or impaired immune system function. The gene mutations associated with the proteins produced by tumor suppressor genes cause the body to be unable to produce a functional version of these proteins. Proteins encoded in tumor suppressor genes help to clear the body of cells with abnormal DNA before they have the chance to turn into malignant cells. The function of these proteins is critical to an individual's defense against all forms of cancer in the body. Women who have gene mutations in their DNA that cause these proteins to be made incorrectly are at a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer because their defense mechanism is disabled. The immune system also plays a substantial role in the elimination of suspicious and abnormal cells from the body, so a gene mutation that decreases its function puts a woman at a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer.
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