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What Are the Risk Factors for Ovarian Cancer?

Photo of four womenMost women who get ovarian cancer are not at high risk, but several factors may increase a woman’s risk.

There is no way to know for sure if you will get ovarian cancer. Most women get it without being at high risk. However, several factors may increase a woman’s risk for ovarian cancer, including if you—

  • Are middle-aged or older.
  • Have close family members (such as your mother, sister, aunt, or grandmother) on either your mother’s or your father’s side, who have had ovarian cancer.
  • Have a genetic mutation (abnormality) called BRCA1 or BRCA2, or one associated with Lynch syndrome.
  • Have had breast, uterine, or colorectal (colon) cancer.
  • Have an Eastern European or Ashkenazi Jewish background.
  • Have endometriosis (a condition where tissue from the lining of the uterus grows elsewhere in the body).
  • Have never given birth or have had trouble getting pregnant.

In addition, some studies suggest that women who take estrogen by itself (without progesterone) for 10 or more years may have an increased risk of ovarian cancer.

If one or more of these factors is true for you, it does not mean you will get ovarian cancer. But you should speak with your doctor about your risk. If you or your family have a history of ovarian cancer, speak to your doctor about genetic counseling.

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