In a majority of cases the ovarian cancer is caused by the development of some abnormal cells in epithelium, while it may also be non-epithelial in nature. It is 8th most common cancer in the United States and 5th most common in the United Kingdom. Though the exact causes of this disease are not well established, there are plenitude of factors that are considered responsible for its development. Also, there are many risk factors involved that may make women more susceptible to the disease.
A Strong Family History:
Your chances of getting ovarian cancer increase manifold if women in your family were ever detected with this disease. Women with a family history of breast, uterine, and colon cancer are more prone to it rather than those who had no such incidences in their families.
Transference Of Mutated Genes Down The Generations:
BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 are the breast cancer genes that get inherited from one generation to the next. These mutated genes not only increase the occurrences of breast cancer but also make women susceptible to ovarian cancer. One of the other infected gene condition is non-polyposis colorectal cancer gene which is caused by DNA mismatch. This autosomal condition increases the risk of acquiring colon and ovary cancers.
Earlier Occurrences Of Cancer:
Having been diagnosed with breast, stomach and colon cancer puts you at a greater risk of ovarian cancer. If you contracted the breast disease at an early age and some of your close relatives were also diagnosed with it at some point of time, then the risk that you will develop ovarian cancer increases about 6 times.
Never Being Pregnant:
If you had never been pregnant since you reached child-bearing age, you are more at the risk of ovarian cancer. Ovulation stops temporarily during pregnancy period; having not been pregnant means you had more number of ovulations as compared to other women. This raises your chances of getting the disease. In fact, the more the number of times a woman becomes pregnant, lesser is her chance of getting ovarian cancer. The rate of risk diminishes with each pregnancy.
Early Puberty And Late Menopause:
The girls who had their first periods before the age of 12 are at relatively higher risk. Similarly, those who had their menopause at a later age are also prone to the cancer of ovaries.
Avoiding Contraceptive Pills And Relying On Contraceptive Devices:
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Not taking contraceptive pills throughout the child-bearing age puts you at a higher risk. Studies have shown that women who had been taking pills for more than 10 years had less chances of getting the disease. On the other hand, prolonged use of contraceptive devices exposes you more to cancer.
Another risk factor that is known to trigger this cancer is Hormone Replacement Therapy. Women who rely on estrogen, progesterone or both types of replacement therapies get themselves exposed to ovarian cancer Though it is not established properly whether the risk increases with the prolonged treatment, it definitely reduces once the therapy is stopped. Also, being infertile could be one of the risk factors for this deadly disease.
Having Ovarian Cyst:
The studies have shown that women with ovarian cysts have more chances of getting cancer, especially if they contract the cyst in their twenties.
Ovary Removal Surgery:
The surgical removal of one of the ovaries due to some complications also increases the risk; then ovary that is left is more liable to ovarian cancer.
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Having the large body mass index puts you at more risk to the cancer as compared with normal or lean persons. The chances for over-weight women who still have not reached their menopausal age are more as compared to menopausal ones.
This issue is still debatable, while some studies have shown that using talcum powder on vagina increases the risk, the other studies have shown the negative results. The discussions are also going on whether the amount of talcum powder has any bearing to the development of ovarian cancer.
Cigarettes raise the chances of mucinous ovarian cancer; if, however you quit smoking early in life, your chances of developing the cancer also get reduced. But this should be done before your ovaries have undergone appreciable change due to smoking.
Increase in the age also increases the risk. Women above the age of 60 years are more likely to develop it.
There are certain syndromes that raise the chances of ovarian cancer. These include Cowden’s disease, Pmutyh Polyposis, etc.