Risk Factors for Ovarian Cancer
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A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition.
It is possible to develop ovarian cancer without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing ovarian cancer. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your health care provider what you can do to reduce your risk.
Risk factors for ovarian cancer appear to be related mainly to your genetic makeup and the number of times you ovulate. Risk factors include:
Because only women have ovaries, ovarian cancer occurs exclusively in women.
Your risk of ovarian cancer increases if:
- You have survived breast cancer
- You have never been pregnant
- Your ovaries do not function normally
- You have had multiple miscarriages or abortions
- You have taken ovulation-inducing (fertility) drugs such as clomiphene.
The risk of ovarian cancer tends to be slightly lower in women who:
- Have taken birth control pills
- Have had a tubal ligation
- Have had a hysterectomy
In addition, each full-term pregnancy reduces your risk by about 10%. Breastfeeding appears to offer an additional reduction in risk.
Rates of ovarian cancer are three to five times higher in women with a mother or sister who had ovarian cancer. If two of your first-degree relatives have had ovarian cancer, your risk may be as high as 50%.
The incidence of ovarian cancer increases with age until the age of 75. It is rare before the age of 40.
The highest rates of ovarian cancer are in Scandinavian countries.
Some research suggests that the risk of ovarian cancer may increase with a higher dietary fat intake.
American Cancer Society Web site.
Available at http://www.cancer.org/
Accessed: November 29, 2002
Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine , 14th ed. McGraw-Hill, 1998.
National Cancer Institute Web site.
Available at http://www.nci.nih.gov/cancer_information
Accessed: November 29, 2002
Last reviewed February 2003 by ]]>Francine Foss, MD]]>
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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