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.
• 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.