Currently, there is no way to prevent ovarian cancer, which develops in the female organs that produce eggs (the ovaries). Many women have one or more known risk factors, such as a personal or family history of cancer or endometriosis, but most of those factors only slightly increase the risk of ovarian cancer.
Studies performed to date
Researchers believe that regular ovulation can potentially “damage” the lining of the ovaries, resulting in frequent cellular repair, which may increase the likelihood of cancerous changes occurring in the ovarian cells. Therefore, anything that stops ovulation for a time, such as oral contraceptives, pregnancy and breastfeeding, may lower a woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer.
The existing knowledge about ovarian cancer risk factors has not translated into practical preventive strategies. However, based on what has been learned so far, here are 10 tips on how to lower the risk of ovarian cancer:
- Consume a nutritious diet.
- Exercise regularly.
- Maintain a healthy body weight.
- Do not smoke or use other tobacco products.
- If appropriate, use oral contraceptives for several years.
- Give birth and breastfeed, especially before reaching age 25.
- If appropriate, undergo a tubal ligation procedure to prevent pregnancy.
- If recommended for a medical reason in addition to ovarian cancer risk reduction, undergo a hysterectomy.
- Undergo a prophylactic oophorectomy to remove one or both ovaries.
- Do not use hormone replacement therapy after menopause.
Some of these tips are relatively easy to follow, but others require surgery, and most involve risks and benefits of their own. Also, while these tips can potentially lower the risk of ovarian cancer, there is no way to completely prevent it. Therefore, if you are interested in reducing your risk of ovarian cancer, you are encouraged to talk with a medical professional who can help you consider these tips as applied to your own unique situation.
Your risk profile
To discuss your ovarian cancer risk profile with a specialist in the gynecological clinic at Moffitt Cancer Center, request an appointment by calling 1-888-663-3488 or completing a new patient registration form online.