Anything that increases your chances of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Risk factors for ovarian cancer include:
- Being older
- Having a family history of ovarian cancer
- Using fertility drugs
- Having increased levels of CA 125
Certain factors may decrease a woman's risk of developing this type of cancer. Women who have taken oral contraceptives, given birth, breastfed, or had a tubal ligation or hysterectomy have a lower-than-average risk of developing ovarian cancer. Prophylactic oophorectomy (removal of healthy ovaries) will decrease the risk of ovarian cancer in women who have an altered gene related to breast cancer.
Some ovarian cancers are caused by inherited gene mutations (changes). The genes in cells carry the hereditary information that is received from a person's parents. Hereditary ovarian cancer makes up approximately 5 to 10 percent of all cases of ovarian cancer.
Three hereditary patterns have been identified, which include:
- Ovarian cancer alone
- Ovarian and breast cancers
- Ovarian and colon cancers.
Tests that can detect mutated genes have been developed. These tests are sometimes done for members of families with a high risk of cancer.
How Is It Diagnosed?In order to make a diagnosis, the doctor will begin by asking a number of questions and performing a physical exam. The doctor may also recommend certain tests that can help diagnose ovarian cancer or other, more common health problems.
These tests may include:
- Blood tests
- Lower GI series (barium enema)
- CT scan
- Laparotomy with biopsy.