All women are at risk for ovarian cancer, but older women are more likely to get the disease than younger women. About 90 percent of women who get ovarian cancer are older than 40, with the greatest number being age 55 or older.
In 2004, 20,095 women were told that they had ovarian cancer, making it the second most common gynecologic cancer. Ovarian cancer causes more deaths than any other gynecologic cancer, but it accounts for only about 3 percent of all cancers in women.
There is no way to know for sure if you will get ovarian cancer. Most women get it without being at high risk. However, there are several factors that may increase the chance that you will get ovarian cancer, including if you:
- Are middle-aged or older.
- Have close family members (such as your mother, sister, aunt, or grandmother) on either your mother's or your father's side who have had ovarian cancer.
- Have had breast, uterine, or colorectal cancer. Have an Eastern European (Ashkenazi) Jewish background. Have never given birth or have had trouble getting pregnant. Have endometriosis (a condition where tissue from the lining of the uterus grows elsewhere in the body).
If you have one or more of these factors, it does not mean you will get ovarian cancer. But you should speak with your doctor about your risk.