What are the risk factors for ovarian cancer?

The most common risk factor for ovarian cancer is age; most cases are diagnosed in women ages 50-75.

If you have a family history of cancer, you may also be at risk for ovarian cancer. Approximately 5 to 10 percent of ovarian cancers are linked to inherited (genetic) mutations in certain genes, including hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome caused by mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.

Other risk factors for ovarian cancer may include:

  • Being obese.
  • Having children after age 35 or never having a full-term pregnancy.
  • Using hormone therapy after menopause.
  • Using fertility treatment.

What can you do to prevent ovarian cancer?

There is no guaranteed way to prevent cancer. However, you can reduce your risk for ovarian cancer by:

  • Not using tobacco. Speak with your doctor if you need help quitting.
  • Exercising regularly.
  • Eating a healthy diet, which includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and low-fat dairy. Talk with your doctor or a nutritionist about what you should include in a healthy diet.
  • Using oral contraceptives.
  • Pregnancy.
  • Keeping a healthy weight. Ask your doctor what a healthy weight is for you.
  • Asking your doctor about genetic testing and screening recommendations if you have an inherited disease that increases your risk for ovarian cancer. In some cases, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove the ovaries to prevent disease.
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