Can I Prevent Ovarian Cancer?

Ovarian cancer is tricky. It’s hard to spot and spreads faster than any other cancer in the female reproductive system.

You can’t prevent it, but there are things you can do to reduce your chances of getting it. The first step is knowing what things put you at risk.

Am I At Risk?

Certain factors may make you more likely to develop ovarian cancer. For example, this disease is more common in women between the ages of 50 and 60. Those of Eastern European Jewish descent are also more at risk.

If you have close relatives who’ve had ovarian cancer, your odds of developing the disease go up. The same is true for women who have breast cancer genes 1 and 2 (BRCA1 and BRCA2) or Lynch syndrome (a genetic condition linked to colon cancer). Your risk is also higher if you’ve had another type of cancer, like melanoma or cervical cancer.

Other risk factors for ovarian cancer include:

  • Starting your period before age 12 and entering menopause after age 52
  • Using hormone replacement therapy after menopause 
  • Taking large doses of estrogen over a long period of time without progesterone
  • Having a history of infertility
  • Having polycystic ovary syndrome (the ovaries don't release eggs)
  • A history of endometriosis (the lining of your uterus grows in the wrong place)
  • Smoking
  • Using an IUD, or intrauterine device, for birth control

Talk with your doctor about early screening options like blood tests and pelvic imaging if any of these risk factors apply to you.

How Can I Lower My Chances of Getting It?

There's no way to prevent ovarian cancer, but you can lower your chances of developing the disease.

Studies show that women who don't get ovarian cancer often have the following things in common:

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Trina Pagano, MD on April 09, 2019

Sources

SOURCES:

Mayo Clinic: "Ovarian Cancer."

CDC: "Ovarian Cancer."

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