What are the risk factors for ovarian cancer?

 

A risk factor is one that changes the chances of suffering from a disease such as, in this case, cancer. Different types of cancer have different risk factors. However, they do not indicate everything. Showing one or more risk factors does not mean that the person necessarily has the disease. Also, there are people who have the disease and have not shown any known risk factors. In fact, even when a woman with ovarian cancer has a risk factor, it is often very difficult to know how much that risk factor may have contributed to cancer. Some risk factors for ovarian cancer are:

 

    • Age: The risk of ovarian cancer increases with age. Ovarian cancer is rare in women under 40, and most ovarian cancers originate after menopause. Half of all ovarian cancers are found in women 63 years of age or older.
    • Obesity: Women who suffer from obesity (those who have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of at least 30) have an increased risk of ovarian cancer.
    • Reproductive related history: Women who have their first full-term pregnancy after age 35 or or never carrying a pregnancy to term have an increased risk of ovarian cancer.
    • Fertility drugs: Taking fertility-enhancing medication  for more than a year may increase the risk of ovarian tumors.
    • Estrogen and hormone therapy: Some studies suggest that women who take estrogen after menopause have an increased risk of ovarian cancer. The risk seems to be higher in women who only receive estrogen (without progesterone) for many years.
    • Family history: The risk of ovarian cancer increases if a close relative has, or had, ovarian, breast or colorectal cancer. The risk also increases more as more family members have ovarian cancer.
    • Personal history of breast cancer: If you have had breast cancer you may also have an increased risk of ovarian cancer. Some of the risk factors for ovarian cancer can also affect the risk of breast cancer.

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References:
American Cancer Society: www.cancer.org
World Health Organisation (WHO): www.who.int/es

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