How can I protect myself from ovarian cancer?

Scott A. Kamelle, MD
Gynecologic Oncology

The oral contraceptive pill can substantially reduce the risk of ovarian cancer if taken longer than 3 years. Maximum protection is obtained if taken for 5 years. After 5 years, the protection does not significantly increase. Knowing your family history is also a method of protection. Patients with a first degree relative (defined as a sister, mother, father or brother with breast or ovarian cancer) or a patient who themselves has been diagnosed with early-onset (before the age of 50) breast cancer, should meet with a genetic counselor. Genetic counseling will result in a meticulous evaluation of a person's family tree and ultimately quantify their risk of getting ovarian cancer. If this risk is around 10%, the counselor will likely offer genetic testing for BRCA. BRCA is an abnormality n the human genetic code that is known to play a role in the development of hereditary ovarian and breast cancer. Other hereditary syndromes include a strong family history of colon cancer. This syndrome known as non-polyposis colon cancer syndrome also increases the risk of developing both ovarian and uterine cancer. 

David A. Fishman, MD
Gynecologic Oncology
There is no known way to prevent ovarian cancer. However, lower rates of ovarian cancer have been detected in women who:
  • Have used birth control pills for more than five years
  • Have had their "tubes tied" (tubal ligation)
  • Have had both ovaries and fallopian tubes removed
  • Have had a hysterectomy
  • Have had multiple births

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.