Certain factors may increase your risk of ovarian cancer:
- Age. Ovarian cancer can occur at any age but is most common in women ages 50 to 60 years.
Inherited gene mutation. A small percentage of ovarian cancers are caused by an inherited gene mutation. The genes known to increase the risk of ovarian cancer are called breast cancer gene 1 (BRCA1) and breast cancer gene 2 (BRCA2). These genes were originally identified in families with multiple cases of breast cancer, which is how they got their names, but women with these mutations also have a significantly increased risk of ovarian cancer.
The gene mutations that cause Lynch syndrome, which is associated with colon cancer, also increase a woman's risk of ovarian cancer.
- Estrogen hormone replacement therapy, especially with long-term use and in large doses.
- Age when menstruation started and ended. If you began menstruating before age 12 or underwent menopause after age 52, or both, your risk of ovarian cancer may be higher.
- Never being pregnant.
- Fertility treatment.
- Use of an intrauterine device.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome.
If you have a genetic predisposition to ovarian cancer, your doctor may recommend regular pelvic imaging and blood tests to screen for the disease.
June 12, 2014
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- Moynihan TJ (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. March 12, 2014.
- Gershenson DB, et al. Overview of sex cord-stromal tumors of the ovary. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Feb. 18, 2014.
- Chen L, et al. Epithelial carcinoma of the ovary, fallopian tube, and peritoneum: Epidemiology and risk factors. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Feb. 18, 2014.
- Havrilesky LJ, et al. Oral contraceptive pills as primary prevention for ovarian cancer: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2013;122:139.
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