Ovarian Cancer Home > Ovarian Cancer Causes

While the exact cause of ovarian cancer is still unknown, certain risk factors -- such as age over 50 or a family history of the disease -- may increase a woman's chances of developing it. However, having risk factors for the condition is no guarantee you will get it. If you believe you are at risk, a healthcare provider can advise you regarding regular checkups.

What Causes Ovarian Cancer?

The exact causes of ovarian cancer are not known. However, studies show that certain factors may increase a person's chance of developing the disease. These are known as ovarian cancer risk factors.
 

Know the Risk Factors

Specific risk factors for ovarian cancer include:
 
 
Family History of the Condition
First-degree relatives (mother, daughter, or sister) of a woman who has had ovarian cancer are at increased risk of developing this type of cancer themselves. The likelihood is especially high if two or more first-degree relatives have had the disease. The risk is somewhat less, but still above average if other relatives (grandmother, aunt, or cousin) have had ovarian cancer. A family history of breast or colon cancer is also associated with an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer.
 
Age Over 50
The likelihood of developing ovarian cancer increases as a woman gets older. Most ovarian cancers occur in women over the age of 50, with the highest risk in women over age 60.
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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