Ovarian Cancer Risk Factors
Ovarian Cancer can be extremely difficult to detect through a routine pelvic exam, and especially difficult during its early stages. This is why keeping an eye out for any potential risk factors is currently the most effective way we have of combatting ovarian cancer and treating it early.
While we cannot accurately predict whether or not an individual will develop ovarian cancer, there are several major risk factors that increase a woman’s chance of being diagnosed at some point in her lifetime.
Those previously diagnosed with breast, colon and/or rectal cancer before the age of 40 are at a higher risk of contracting ovarian cancer.
Women over the age of 55 are at a higher risk for ovarian cancer.
Women who have never been pregnant and are over the age of 55 are also at a higher risk for ovarian cancer.
HORMONE REPLACEMENT THERAPY:
Studies have suggested that women who have taken estrogen for 10+ years without an accompanying progesterone treatment are also at risk.
FAMILY HISTORY OF CANCER:
If your mother, daughter or sister has been diagnosed with either ovarian, fallopian tube or primary peritoneal cancer, then you are at a significantly higher risk of being diagnosed as well. This also includes a history of hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (Lynch II), those with male relatives who have been diagnosed with breast cancer and a family history of mutation in the BRCA gene (a gene responsible for suppressing tumors).
FAMILY OVARIAN CANCER REGISTRY:
Because of this strong correlation between family history and ovarian cancer, the Familial Ovarian Cancer Registry was established. This national computer tracking system stores data compiled from women and their family members nationwide who have a family history of ovarian cancer. With this information, researchers hope to identify new genes associated with ovarian cancer in order to improve genetic and psychosocial counseling for these patients and also evaluate lifestyle choices that may reduce ovarian cancer risk among this population.