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.
  • Smoking.
  • 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