Ovarian Cancer Risks

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Here are some risk factors for ovarian cancer:

  • Age: Ovarian cancer is most common in women older than 55. Young women can get ovarian cancer, but this is rare. All women can get ovarian cancer.
  • Childbirth: Not giving birth to a child raises a woman’s risk.
  • Family history: Women with a family member who had ovarian, breast, or colon cancer have a higher risk. But 90% of women who get ovarian cancer do not have a family history of the disease.
  • Genes: The most significant risk factor for ovarian cancer is an inherited genetic mutation in the genes BRCA1 or BRCA2. These genes are responsible for about 10 to 15 percent of all ovarian cancers. About 20 to 25 percent of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer have a hereditary tendency to develop the disease.
  • HRT: Long term use of post-menopausal hormone therapy (HRT). To assess your personal risk, the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance has an ovarian cancer risk questionnaire.

Ovarian cancer is most common in women older than 55. Young women can get ovarian cancer, but this is rare. All women can get ovarian cancer.


How to Lower Your Risk Factors

There are some actions you can take that lower your risk for ovarian cancer.

  • Have one or more children: Your risk drops more if you have a child before age 30
  • Breastfeed: your risk drops more if you breastfeed for over a year
  • Use birth control pills: your risk drops 50% if you take them for 5 years or more
  • Have your tubes tied (tubal ligation surgery)
  • Remove the ovaries and fallopian tubes (salpingo-oophorectomy)
  • Remove the uterus (hysterectomy)

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