Ovarian Cancer Risk Factors
By Dr. Merina Pradhan and Dr. Saba Alzabin
Like the majority of cancers, ovarian cancer is caused by a combination of factors which are mostly environmental and age-related. Over 75% of cases occur in women over 50 years of age.
Cancer Research UK approximates that 11% of ovarian cancer cases are preventable, particularly where factors such as obesity, hormone therapy and genetic predisposition play a role. Nearly 7% of ovarian cancer cases are attributed to obesity, and women who are users of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) are at a 37% increased risk of developing ovarian cancer.
Like breast cancer, ovarian cancer is higher in women who carry genetic mutations in two genes: BRCA1 and BRCA2, resulting in a 65% and 35% increased chance of developing ovarian cancer respectively. Genetic predisposition accounts for 5-15% of total ovarian cancer cases, dependent on geographical location and ethnic background. The frequency of BRCA1/2 mutations is higher in women with a history of breast or ovarian cancer. Therefore, if you have a family history of either ovarian or breast cancer, it is important to see a genetic counselor who may advise on genetic screening to assess if you may be a carrier. Being aware of your predisposition means that you can take steps to prevent the development of ovarian and other cancers.