Ovarian cancer is the seventh most common cancer in women worldwide, the fourth most common in Ireland is the most serious gynaecological cancer. Most cases of ovarian cancer occur for unknown reasons.
The two biggest risk factors are family history and age.
For women without a family history, the biggest risk factor is age. The incidence of the disease is largely confined to post menopausal women with 80% of cases occurring in the over 50s.
However, some types of ovarian cancer do appear in much younger women.
A long menstrual history may also increase your risk, which can result from one or more of the following:
- Starting your period before 12
- Going through the menopause after 55
- Having your first child after 30
- Not having any children
- Not breast feeding
The following may slightly increase your risk of ovarian cancer; being obese, using oestrogen- only hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and smoking, which may increase your risk of developing mucinous ovarian cancer.