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Gynecologic Oncology Program

Patient and Family Education

Ovarian Cancer

Risk Factors and Prevention

American Cancer Society estimates that there will be about 21,650 new cases of ovarian cancer in this country in 2008.

The disease accounts for 4 percent of all cancers in women and causes more deaths than any other cancer of the reproductive system.

There are several known or suspected risk factors for developing epithelial ovarian cancer, but the influence of these risk factors is not well understood. Women with no risk factors may develop the disease, and women who have risk factors do not necessarily develop the disease.

The risk factors include the following:

Age: Most ovarian cancer occurs in post-menopausal women.

Breast cancer: Women who have had breast cancer have an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer.

Heredity: If a woman's sisters, daughters, or mother has had ovarian cancer, she may have an increased risk of developing the disease. This risk can be inherited from either her mother's or her father's side of her family. Women with two or more close family members affected by ovarian cancer should be counseled by a qualified specialist regarding their individual risk.

Menstrual/reproductive history:A woman may have an increased of developing ovarian cancer if she started menstruating early, experienced menopause late, or had no children or a first child after the age of 30.


This page was last updated on: October 6, 2009.

For appointments, please call 410-328-2076, or 1-800-888-8823. If you are a physician and would like to refer a patient, please call our Physician OneCall line at 1-800-373-4111