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Assessing Your Ovarian Cancer Risk Factors

Posted on May 18, 2022
Medically reviewed by
Howard Goodman, M.D.
Article written by
Elizabeth Wartella, M.P.H.

A person’s risk of developing ovarian cancer is generally low. However, the condition is often detected too late for treatments to be effective. According to the American Cancer Society, it is the fifth deadliest type of cancer in women in the U.S. Since anyone with ovaries has the potential to develop ovarian cancer, it’s important to understand the factors that raise the risk of ovarian cancer.

There are several known risk factors for developing ovarian cancer, which include both genetic and lifestyle considerations. The risk of ovarian cancer increases with age, and about 50 percent of ovarian cancer cases occur for those aged 63 and older. Family history of ovarian cancer and genetic mutations are major factors that raise your risk. Smoking may increase the risk of certain types of ovarian cancer, but the evidence is less clear.

Some factors, like taking oral contraceptives (birth control pills) or having surgery to remove the uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries, are associated with a lower risk of ovarian cancer.

While there are risk factors to be aware of, some people who develop ovarian cancer don’t have any risk factors. This risk assessment tool will introduce you to the major known risk factors for ovarian cancer. It is not a validated medical risk-assessment tool.

It’s best to discuss your risk factors for ovarian cancer with your health care provider or gynecologist. They’ll help determine whether you should receive ovarian cancer screening. Genetic counselors can conduct genetic testing, which would help identify whether you have genetic mutations that increase your risk of ovarian or other types of cancer.

All updates must be accompanied by text or a picture.
Howard Goodman, M.D. is certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and specializes in the surgical management of women with gynecologic cancer. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.. Learn more about him here.
Elizabeth Wartella, M.P.H. is an Associate Editor at MyHealthTeam. She holds a Master's in Public Health from Columbia University and is passionate about spreading accurate, evidence-based health information. Learn more about her here.

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