Several ovarian cancer risk factors have been identified, but risk factors do not tell the whole story of how cancer develops. For example, many women who have one or more risk factors never develop ovarian cancer. On the other hand, some women with ovarian cancer have no known risk factors. Even when a woman with ovarian cancer does have a risk factor, it is impossible to determine whether it actually contributed in any way to the development of her cancer.
As is the case with many other types of cancer, the risk for developing ovarian cancer increases with age, particularly after age 55. Some of the other known risk factors for ovarian cancer include:
- Family history – Women who have a first-degree relative (mother, daughter, or sister) with ovarian cancer have a higher risk, which increases further when two or more first- or second-degree (grandmother or aunt) relatives have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
- Genetics – A mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene is associated with an increased risk of ovarian and other cancers.
- Personal history of breast cancer – A breast cancer diagnosis can increase a woman’s risk for ovarian cancer, even when she tests negative for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic mutations.
- Reproductive history – Women who began menstruating before age 12, have never been pregnant, have unexplained infertility, have never taken oral contraceptives, had their first child after age 30 or experienced menopause after age 55 have an increased risk of ovarian cancer.
- Estrogen exposure – Women who took estrogen-only hormone replacement therapy (HRT) after menopause have a higher risk of ovarian cancer.
- Obesity – Women who were obese in early adulthood are more likely to develop ovarian cancer.
Women who would like to discuss ovarian cancer risk factors are welcome to consult with the physicians at Moffitt Cancer Center, where we offer all aspects of patient care in a single, convenient location. Our expert ovarian cancer team and outstanding gynecological clinic highlight our core values of teamwork and multispecialty collaboration.
If you would like to schedule an appointment with a physician at Moffitt, you do not need to have a referral. Please contact us at 1-888-663-3488, or access our convenient online form schedule an appointment.