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Ovarian Cancer Prevention (PDQ®): Prevention - Patient Information [NCI] - Ovarian Cancer Prevention

Avoiding risk factors and increasing protective factors may help prevent cancer.

Avoiding cancer risk factors may help prevent certain cancers. Risk factors include smoking, being overweight, and not getting enough exercise. Increasing protective factors such as quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, and exercising may also help prevent some cancers. Talk to your doctor or other health care professional about how you might lower your risk of cancer.

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Understanding Ovarian Cancer -- Diagnosis & Treatment

If an ovarian growth is suspected, an ultrasound of the ovaries is done. If any abnormality is detected, further testing will be done. Tests include blood studies, CT scans, barium enema X-rays, colonoscopy, MRI, and chest X-rays to help evaluate the extent of the cancer. Ultimately, the surgical opening of the abdomen (exploratory laparotomy) is necessary to confirm or rule out an ovarian cancer diagnosis. Genetic testing may be useful for women who have a family history of ovarian, uterine (endometrial),...

Read the Understanding Ovarian Cancer -- Diagnosis & Treatment article > >

The following are risk factors for ovarian cancer:

Family history of ovarian cancer

A woman whose mother or sister had ovarian cancer has an increased risk of ovarian cancer. A woman with two or more relatives with ovarian cancer also has an increased risk of ovarian cancer.

Inherited risk

The risk of ovarian cancer is increased in women who have inherited certain changes in the BRCA1, BRCA2, or other genes.

The risk of ovarian cancer is also increased in women who have certain inherited syndromes that include:

  • Familial site-specific ovarian cancer syndrome.
  • Familial breast/ovarian cancer syndrome.
  • Hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC; Lynch syndrome).

Hormone replacement therapy

The use of estrogen -only hormone replacement therapy (HRT) after menopause is linked to a slightly increased risk of ovarian cancer in women who are taking HRT or have taken HRT within the past 3 years. The risk of ovarian cancer increases the longer a woman uses estrogen-only HRT. When hormone therapy is stopped, the risk of ovarian cancer decreases over time.

It is not clear whether there is an increased risk of ovarian cancer with the use of HRT that has both estrogen and progestin.

Talc

The use of talc may cause a small increase in the risk of ovarian cancer. Talcum powder dusted on the perineum (the area between the vagina and the anus) may reach the ovaries by entering the vagina.

Weight and height

Being overweight or obese during the teenage years, and gaining 40 or more pounds during adulthood is linked to an increased risk of ovarian cancer. Being obese is linked to an increased risk of death from ovarian cancer. Being tall (5'8" or taller) may also be linked to a slight increase in the risk of ovarian cancer.

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