Women and Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer is typically a disease of post-menopausal women, as age is a major risk factor. However, ovarian cancer has a set of both risk and protective factors that span the pre- and post-menopausal years.

Risk factors1 that may increase the occurrence of ovarian cancer include:

  • Age
  • Family history
  • Genetic factors (BRCA 1/2)
  • Hormone replacement
  • Fertility drugs
  • Obesity

Protective factors that may decrease the occurrence of ovarian cancer include:

  • Oral contraceptive use
  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding
  • Bilateral tubal ligation or hysterectomy
  • Prophylactic oophorectomy

1 Ovarian Cancer Prevention (PDQ®) [Internet]. National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health. [cited 2013 Mar 29] Available from:

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