Ovarian Cancer Facts

WHAT IS OVARIAN CANCER?

Ovarian cancer occurs when cells in the ovary grow and divide uncontrollably. The cells may form a tumor on the ovary, or they also can break off from the main tumor and spread to other parts of the body. Although ovarian cancer can spread throughout the entire body, in most cases it stays in the abdomen and affects organs such as the intestines, liver and stomach. There are several types of ovarian cancer. However, most cancers of the ovary come from the cells that make up the outer lining of the ovary.

HOW COMMON IS OVARIAN CANCER?

A woman’s risk of getting ovarian cancer during her lifetime is about one in 67. The risk of getting this cancer and dying from it is one in 95. Ovarian cancer is the eighth most common cancer in women, excluding skin cancer. It is the fifth leading cause of cancer death in women.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF OVARIAN CANCER?

WHAT ARE SOME RISK FACTORS FOR OVARIAN CANCER?

The exact causes of ovarian cancer are not known. However, studies show that the following risk factors may increase the chance of developing this disease:

  • Family History – first-degree relatives (mother, daughter, sister), especially if two or more have had the disease. A family history of breast or colon cancer also is associated with an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer.
  • Age – most ovarian cancers occur in women 50 years of age or older, with the highest risk in women older than 60.
  • Non-Childbearing – women who have never had children. In fact, the more children a woman has had, the less likely she is to develop ovarian cancer.
  • Personal History – women who have had breast or colon cancer may be at greater risk.
  • Obesity – women who are obese have a higher rate of death from ovarian cancer.
  • Fertility Drugs —- drugs that cause women to ovulate may slightly increase a woman’s risk.
  • Talc – some studies suggest that women who have used talc in the genital area for many years may be at increased risk of developing ovarian cancer.
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) – some evidence suggests that women who use HRT after menopause may have a slightly increased risk of developing this disease.

Source: Illinois Department of Public Health

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT OVARIAN CANCER CAN BE OBTAINED BY CONTACTING:

National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health
(800) 422-6237
Website >

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(800) 232-4636 (800-CDC-INFO)
Website >