Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


W.M. Keck Science Department

Second Department


Reader 1

Emily Wiley

Reader 2

Elisabeth Evans

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Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2016 Joanna S. Heywood


Endometrial cancer is the most common gynecologic cancer with 54,870 cases occurring in the United States in 2015 and causing 10,170 deaths, an 18.5% mortality rate (Elit and Reade, 2015). Ovarian cancer, while less common, is much more fatal. In 2015 in the United States, 21,290 cases occurred and resulted in 14,180 deaths, a 66.6% mortality rate. This mortality rate makes ovarian cancer the fifth most deadly cancer for women in the United States, which is largely explained by ineffective screening strategies and limited treatment possibilities (Cramer, 2012). Thus, developing effective prevention strategies is especially important to saving the lives of women who will develop ovarian or endometrial cancer. Women taking combined oral contraceptives (COCs), a type of hormonal birth control, have shown a significant reduced risk of developing ovarian and endometrial cancer. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not currently recommend taking COCs for the prevention gynecologic cancer (CDC, 2014a). Since the efficacy of COCs for reducing risk of ovarian and endometrial cancer is well established, guidelines need to be determined for populations of women that should take hormonal birth control to minimize cancer risk. This paper highlights the current understanding of ovarian and endometrial cancer, populations of women at highest risk for developing either of these two cancers, and then proposes a case-control study to help determine which populations of women should take hormonal birth control to reduce their gynecologic cancer risk.