risk factors

Last reviewed 01/2018

Factors associated with an increased risk of epithelial ovarian cancer include:

  • family history of ovarian cancer: see linked item

  • prolonged periods of uninterrupted ovulation:
    • nulliparity
    • first child after the age of 35 years
    • oral contraceptives are protective by suppressing ovulation
  • late age of menopause
  • white race

Less certain are factors such as the perineal use of asbestos contaminated talc and the use of ovulation-inducing treatments of infertility.

A prior history of infection with the mumps virus may have a protective effect.


  • (1) GP magazine (22/6/01), 42.
  • (2) Cannistra (1993). Cancer of the ovary. NEJM, 329 (21), 1550-1557.
  • (3) Tewari K (1998). Lancet, 351, 957.