There is no way of preventing ovarian cancer but several ways have been found which can help to reduce the risk of developing ovarian cancer:
- surgical removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes
- having children and breastfeeding
- using oral contraceptives (reduces risk by 50% if taken for over 5 years).
But these methods are not suitable for all women, and many women having adopted protective measures may still develop ovarian cancer. It is important to discuss your risk, and appropriate management, with your doctor.
Is there an association between hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and ovarian cancer?
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a treatment used to help reduce the symptoms of menopause. It does this by changing the levels of hormones in the body which are chemical messengers within different organs in the body that affect things like fertility, growth and our mood. During menopause the levels of a woman’s sex hormones (oestrogen and progesterone) in her body decrease causing side effects such as vaginal dryness, hot flushes, low mood and a loss of desire to want sex (libido). Many women find these symptoms distressing and challenging to cope with.
Research has shown that taking HRT (oestrogen and combined HRT) can increase your risk of developing certain types of cancers, including ovarian cancer. But the risk is small. And when you stop taking it, your risk will begin to go back to what it would have been if you never had taken HRT. For some women the benefits of taking HRT will outweigh any risk factors.
It is important you speak with your doctor if you are thinking about taking HRT during or after your ovarian cancer and its treatment.