Risk Factors and Prevention
Ovarian cancer is the ninth most common cancer in women, and the fifth leading cause of female cancer death. Each year in the United States, about 22,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer. About 14,000 American women die each year from the disease.
Certain factors increase the risk for ovarian cancer, while other factors reduce risk. Many of the preventive factors are related to the number of times a woman ovulates during her lifetime, which is indicated by the number of menstrual periods she has. Fewer menstrual periods and ovulations appear to be associated with reduced risk for ovarian cancer.
Factors That Increase the Risk for Ovarian Cancer
The main risk factors for ovarian cancer are:
- Family history of ovarian, breast, or colorectal cancer
- Genetic mutations
- Hormone replacement therapy use
- Menstrual and reproductive history
Age. Ovarian cancer risk increases with age. About two-thirds of women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer at age 55 or older. The average age for the onset of ovarian cancer is about age 63, although ovarian cancer can develop in women of all ages.
Review Date: 11/04/2010
Reviewed By: Harvey Simon, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.