Margaret Liotta, DO, specializes in the treatment and research of gynecological cancers, including ovarian, cervical, uterine and vulva cancers. Here she answers questions about ovarian cancer.
How common is ovarian cancer and who gets it?
Ovarian cancer makes up about 3 percent of all cancers among women. It most frequently develops after menopause, and half of ovarian cancers are diagnosed in women age 63 years or older.
Women of all ages are at risk of developing ovarian cancer, but it is rare among women younger than 40. The cause of ovarian cancer is not known but age and the lifetime frequency of ovulation are the most common risk factors.
Ovarian cancer most frequently develops in women 55 to 64 years old and in women who began menstruating before age 12 or reached menopause after age 50. Higher risk also is associated with:
- No history of pregnancy
- Fertility treatment
- Family history of breast, thyroid, colorectal, endometrial or ovarian cancer
- Inherited gene mutations such as BRCA1 and BRCA2
- Taking estrogen without progesterone for 10 or more years
What are the symptoms?