According to Mayo Clinic, ovarian cancer is a growth of cells that forms in the ovaries and can invade and destroy healthy body tissue. The American Cancer Society ranks ovarian cancer fifth in cancer deaths among women, and the disease claims more lives than “any other cancer of the female reproductive system.” The numbers are staggering: a woman’s risk of getting ovarian cancer during her lifetime is about 1 in 78.
But how can a woman gauge her likelihood of getting ovarian cancer? According to Mayo Clinic, there are certain factors that can increase your risk:
Older age: Your chance of being diagnosed with ovarian cancer increases as you age. The disease is most commonly found in post-menopausal older adults.
Inherited gene changes: It’s not a common cause, but a small percentage of ovarian cancers are caused by genes including BRCA1 and BRCA2, which you can inherit from your parents. These two genes also increase a person’s risk of breast cancer, hence the name. Other genes which are known to heighten ovarian cancer risk include gene changes associated with Lynch syndrome, and BRIP1, RAD51C and RAD51D.
Family history of ovarian cancer: Like is the case with many other diseases, people whose blood relatives have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer are more likely to be diagnosed themselves.
Being overweight or obese: Those with a higher BMI are at an increased risk of developing many cancers, including ovarian cancer.
Postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy: People being treated with horomone replacement therapy to ease symptoms of menopause may be more likely to develop ovarian cancer.
Endometriosis: Endometriosis, “an often painful disorder in which tissue similar to the tissue that lines the inside of your uterus grows outside your uterus,” increases risk of cancer.
Age when menstruation started and ended: Women who got their first period at a young age, or began menopause at a later age, or both, may have a higher risk of ovarian cancer.
Never having been pregnant: Women who have never been pregnant may have an increased risk of ovarian cancer.
For more information on ovarian cancer, including symptoms, prevention, and treatment options, visit www.Mayoclinic.org.