At present, there is no known method to prevent ovarian cancer, but some things appear to reduce a woman’s risk of developing the disease.

They include:

• Birth control pill: Oral contraceptives have been shown to reduce the risk for ovarian cancer by up to 30-60% especially among women who use them for several years. Women considering taking these drugs for any reason should first discuss the possible risks and benefits with their doctor.

• Preventive surgery to remove the ovaries and fallopian tubes (prophylactic salpingo-oophorectomy) may be considered if genetic testing or a strong family history indicates an increased risk of ovarian cancer. For post-menopausal women, this surgery can reduce the risk of ovarian and related cancers by 85-90%. For premenopausal women, removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes can also reduce the risk of breast cancer by 40-70%.

• Other factors which are thought to help protect against ovarian cancer but to a lesser extent include:

  • Keeping a healthy body weight
  • Breast feeding
  • Having your first child before 30 years of age
  • Having several pregnancies
  • Tubal ligation

It is important to consider the range of risks and benefits when making these important decisions. Your doctor should be able to discuss these with you.