Risk factorsBy Mayo Clinic staff
Certain factors may increase your risk of ovarian cancer. Having one or more of these risk factors doesn't mean that you're sure to develop ovarian cancer, but your risk may be higher than that of the average woman. These risk factors include:
- Inherited gene mutations. A small percentage of ovarian cancers are caused by an inherited gene mutation. The genes known to increase the risk of ovarian cancer are called breast cancer gene 1 (BRCA1) and breast cancer gene 2 (BRCA2). These genes were originally identified in families with multiple cases of breast cancer, which is how they got their names, but women with these mutations also have a significantly increased risk of ovarian cancer. Another known genetic link involves an inherited syndrome called hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC). Women in HNPCC families are at increased risk of cancers of the uterine lining (endometrium), colon, ovary and stomach.
- Family history of ovarian cancer. If women in your family have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, you have an increased risk of the disease.
- A previous cancer diagnosis. If you've been diagnosed with cancer of the breast, colon, rectum or uterus, your risk of ovarian cancer is increased.
- Increasing age. Your risk of ovarian cancer increases as you age. Ovarian cancer most often develops after menopause, though it can occur at any age.
- Never having been pregnant. Women who have never been pregnant have an increased risk of ovarian cancer.
- Lentz GM, et al. Comprehensive Gynecology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2012. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/linkTo?type=bookPage&isbn=978-0-323-06986-1&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-06986-1..C2009-0-48752-X--TOP. Accessed Sept. 21, 2012.
- Ovarian cancer including fallopian tube cancer and primary peritoneal cancer. Fort Washington, Pa.: National Comprehensive Cancer Network. http://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/f_guidelines.asp. Accessed Sept. 21, 2012.
- What you need to know about ovarian cancer. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/wyntk/ovary. Accessed Sept. 21, 2012.
- Hoffman BL, et al. Williams Gynecology. 2nd ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=768. Accessed Sept. 21, 2012.