Ovarian cancer is cancer that begins in the ovaries or nearby tissues like the fallopian tubes. Although research is ongoing, we still don’t know what exactly causes ovarian cancer to occur. However, researchers have identified several risk factors. These risk factors can increase your likelihood of developing ovarian cancer.
The American Cancer Society estimates that 21,410 women in the United States will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2021. Read on to learn about risk factors for ovarian cancer and how to lower yours.
The risk factors for ovarian cancer are:
- having a family history of ovarian cancer, breast cancer, colorectal cancer, or uterine cancer
- having a personal history of breast cancer, colorectal cancer, or uterine cancer
- having inherited genetic changes in certain genes, such as those in BRCA1 or BRCA2
- having a family cancer syndrome like
Lynch syndrome, Peutz-Jeghers syndrome, MUTYH (or MYH)-associated polyposis, or PTEN tumor hamartoma syndrome
- being an older age, with the American Cancer Society reporting half of cases in women 63 years and older
- having overweight or obesity
- having endometriosis
- having children at a later age or never giving birth
- taking hormone replacement therapy after reaching menopause
- receiving fertility treatments
- smoking cigarettes
If you have one or more of the risk factors we’ve described above, it’s important to watch out for signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer and contact a doctor right away if they occur.
While we don’t have any known ways to prevent ovarian cancer, we do know of certain things that can help to lower your risk of developing it. These include:
Many of the factors above have different risks and benefits associated with them. Because of this, they may not be recommended for everyone.