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The Risk Factors for Ovarian Cancer

The Risk Factors for Ovarian Cancer

September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.

Ovarian cancer is one of the most deadly cancers, ranking fifth in fatal cancers for women. Many of the symptoms of ovarian cancer can often go unnoticed until the disease has progressed to an advanced stage. Because of the prevalence of hidden symptoms, testing for ovarian cancer is important, especially if you exhibit some of the following most common risk factors.

Common Risk Factors of Ovarian Cancer

While the exact cause of ovarian cancer remains unknown, several risk factors have been identified that might increase a woman's likelihood of developing this disease. Just because you may have one of the following multiple risk factors, this does not mean you will get ovarian cancer. Though, it makes it even more important to get tested.


Ovarian cancer is more common in women in their 50s and 60s, with the majority of ovarian cancers occurring in women over 63. However, it's important to note that it can happen at any age.


A family history of ovarian cancer significantly increases the risk. Mutations in genes such as BRCA1 or BRCA2, which can be inherited from either parent, also raise the risk. Genetic testing can help identify these mutations.

Age of Menstruation and Menopause

Women who started menstruating before aged 12 or entered menopause after aged 50 have a slightly higher risk. The theory is that the ovaries may be at risk due to a greater number of lifetime ovulations.


People with endometriosis, a condition where the tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside the uterus, are at a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer.

Hormone Replacement Therapy

Long-term use of hormone replacement therapy after menopause has been linked to a slightly increased risk of ovarian cancer.

The Importance of Awareness and Testing

Given the subtle nature of ovarian cancer symptoms, awareness of these risk factors is crucial. If you fall into one or more of these risk categories, it's essential to discuss this with your healthcare provider. They may suggest regular screenings, such as pelvic examinations, CA-125 blood tests or transvaginal ultrasounds.

Genetic testing also can be valuable, especially for those with a family history of ovarian or breast cancer. If you test positive for gene mutations like BRCA1 or BRCA2, your doctor can guide you through preventive measures, which may include surgery or medication.

RELATED: Why You Should Get Screened for Prostate Cancer

At Southwest General Health Center, we offer quality cancer care services to understand your unique symptoms and find the right treatment for you. Our cancer specialists work together to create personalized treatment plans to give you a full scope of screening, treatment and rehabilitation. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, visit