What Increases Your Risk
A risk factor is anything that increases your chance of getting a disease such as cancer. The main risk factors for ovarian cancer include:
- Having a family history of ovarian cancer. Having a mother, sister, or daughter who has had ovarian cancer will raise your risk. And if you have two close relatives with cancer, you will have a higher risk.
- Inheriting gene changes. A small number of women with a family history of cancer have inherited gene changes, such as the BRCA gene changes. Having certain gene changes can put a woman at the Reference highest risk Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window for ovarian cancer.
But most women who get ovarian cancer do not have these risk factors.
Ovarian cancer most often affects Reference postmenopausal Opens New Window women. You may also be more likely to get this cancer if:
- You never had a baby.
- You started your menstrual cycles before age 12 and went through menopause after age 50.
- You are unable to become pregnant.
- You have used Reference hormone therapy Opens New Window for menopause symptoms.
Some things that lower a woman's risk for ovarian cancer include:
- Taking birth control pills (oral contraceptives). But this may slightly increase the risk for breast cancer and other health problems.
- Having babies and breast-feeding.
- Having both tubes tied (Reference tubal ligation Opens New Window) or having a Reference hysterectomy Opens New Window. But you will not be able to become pregnant after having either of these surgeries.
If you have a strong family history of ovarian or breast cancer, you may want to talk with your doctor or a Reference genetic counselor Opens New Window about having a blood test to look for BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene changes.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference October 22, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Reference Ross Berkowitz, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology