Personal Risk


What is my Personal Risk of Ovarian Cancer?

All women are at risk for ovarian cancer, with 1 in 70 women developing this disease in her lifetime. Some women, however, have personal or familial factors which further increase this risk. Using information about whether these other factors are present allows you and your doctor to determine the ovarian cancer risk-reduction approach best suited for your level of risk. Make sure to read all four risk levels to determine your personal risk.

  • Average Risk
  • Slightly Increased Risk
  • Moderately Increased Risk
  • Very Increased Risk

Average Risk

[Lifetime risk of approximately 1 in 70]

  • You don’t have any family history of breast or ovarian cancer.
  • You have never had difficulty getting pregnant.
  • You have never taken hormone replacement.

 

Ovarian cancer screening recommendations for women at average risk:

  • Have a gynecologic exam once a year.
  • Be aware of the symptoms of ovarian cancer and contact your doctor if
    these are new, occur almost daily and are present for more than 2 – 3 weeks.

Ovarian cancer prevention options for women at average risk:

  • Consider using birth control pills if you are in the reproductive age
    group.

Slightly Increased Risk

[Lifetime risk of up to 1 in 20]

  • Do you have a history of infertility (difficulty getting pregnant)?
  • Have you used medicines to help you get pregnant?
  • Do you have a history of endometriosis?
  • Have you taken hormone replacement therapy to help manage
    menopausal symptoms?
  • Have you had breast cancer after age 40?

Ovarian cancer screening recommendations for women at slightly increased risk:

  • Have a gynecologic exam once a year.
  • Be aware of the symptoms of ovarian cancer and contact your doctor if
    these are new, occur almost daily and are present for more than 2–3
    weeks.

Ovarian cancer prevention options for women at slightly increased risk:

  • Consider using birth control pills if you are in the reproductive age
    group and have not had breast cancer.

Moderately Increased Risk

[Lifetime risk of up to 1 in 10]

  • Has your mother, sister or daughter had ovarian cancer?
  • Have you had breast cancer before age 40?
  • Have you had breast cancer before age 50, and have one or more close
    blood relatives had breast or ovarian cancer at any age?
  • Have two or more close blood relatives had breast cancer before the
    age of 50 or ovarian cancer at any age?
  • Are you of Eastern European (Ashkenazi) Jewish heritage? If yes, then:
    -Have you or a close blood relative had breast cancer before age
    50?
    -Has a close blood relative had ovarian cancer at any age?
  • Have you or a close blood relative had uterine cancer prior to age 50?
  • Have you or a close blood relative had colon cancer prior to age 50?

Recommendations for women at moderately increased risk:

Genetic counseling is highly recommended to better clarify your risk,
and to help determine the best screening and prevention options for
you.

Very Increased Risk
[Lifetime risk of up to 1 in 2]

  • Has genetic testing shown that you have a change in the BRCA1 or
    BRCA2 genes which is associated with a very increased risk of breast
    and ovarian cancer?
  • Has genetic testing shown that you have a change in the MLH1, MSH2
    or MSH6 genes (Lynch Syndrome) which is associated with a very increased risk of colon,
    uterine, ovarian and kidney cancer?

Screening and prevention recommendations for women with BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations:

  • Have a gynecologic exam 1–2 times per year.
  • Be aware of the symptoms of ovarian cancer and contact your doctor if
    these are new, occur almost daily and are present for more than 2–3
    weeks.
  • Have both a transvaginal ultrasound (TVU) and the CA-125 blood test
    two times per year starting at age 30–35 until the ovaries and fallopian
    tubes are removed preventively.
  • Have breast cancer screening with annual mammogram and breast
    MRI starting at age 25–30
  • Undergo preventive removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes after
    childbearing is done.

Screening and prevention recommendations for women with MLH1, MSH2 or MSH6 mutations (Lynch Syndrome):

  • Have a gynecologic exam 1–2 times per year.
  • Be aware of the symptoms of ovarian cancer and contact your doctor if
    these are new, occur almost daily and are present for more than 2–3
    weeks.
  • Report any abnormal vaginal bleeding to your doctor.
  • Have both a transvaginal ultrasound (TVU) and the CA-125 blood test 1
    to 2 times per year starting at age 30–35 until the uterus, ovaries and
    fallopian tubes are removed preventively.
  • Have a biopsy of the uterine lining once a year to detect uterine cancer
    or pre-cancer.
  • Have a colon cancer screening with colonoscopy every 1–2 years,
    starting at age 20–25.
  • Undergo preventive removal of the uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes
    after childbearing is done.

Download a convenient ovarian cancer risk chart to review with your doctor.

Reproduced with permission from Project Hope for Ovarian Cancer Research and Education.

© 2009 Gynecologic Cancer Foundation and Project Hope for Ovarian Cancer and Education. All rights reserved.

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