Ovarian malignancy constitutes about 15–20% of genital malignancy. It’s the second most common gynecological malignancy in women

Conditions that can increase chances of a woman getting ovarian cancer include:

  • Nulliparity – this refers to a state whereby a woman has never given birth at all, or if she was once pregnant, the pregnancy ended as a miscarriage (aborted)
  • Infertility – inability to conceive after a year for individuals below 35 years of age or after 6 months for couples above 35 years despite having regular unprotected sexual intercourse
  • Early menarche – menarche refers to onset of menstrual periods, thus it usually occurs at onset of puberty, that’s around 12-13 years, however it can be as low as 9 years!
  • Late menopause – menopause refers to cessation of menstrual periods, it’s the exact opposite of menarche. It usually occurs from 45-51 years on average
  • Ovarian overstimulation using drugs as a way of treating certain forms of infertility
  • Increasing age – this is a common risk factor for almost all cancers occurring in adults, considering ovarian cancer, the age is usually 40-60 years
  • Cigarette smoking, this habit is also risk factors for most cancers, especially for long term (chronic) smokers
  • Endometriosis – this is a condition where normal tissue lining the cavity of the uterus is found out elsewhere, where it shouldn’t be
  • Family history – if a lady has a sister who suffered from ovarian cancer, she has a 5% chance of getting it too. This implies that genetics too plays a role
  • Obesity

The first 6 factors above influence the kind of certain hormones and the duration for which a woman is exposed. There’s also an aspect of ovulation. The key hormone is oestrogen, and the effect of ovulation on the ovaries which play a role in development of ovarian cancer

Whereas carrying pregnancy multiple times, usage of oral contraceptives, breastfeeding and total hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus plus ovaries) appear to be protective against ovarian cancer. These factors appear to be antagonistic to the influences of the above risk factors