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Every year in the UK, around 7,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and more than 47,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer. In this blog, our editor Elissia explains the risk factors for these cancers, particularly family history. It also includes some of the signs and symptoms to look out for.
Risk factors and causes
We don’t know exactly what causes ovarian or prostate cancer, but there are some factors that may increase your risk:
Family history and ovarian cancer risk
Most ovarian cancers aren’t caused by inherited genes, and most women who develop ovarian cancer don’t have a family history of it. But sometimes it can run in families and it’s thought that around 5–15 of every 100 ovarian cancers are because of a change in a gene that’s running in the family.
Generally, the chance of there being a family link is higher if:
Family history and prostate cancer risk
Most prostate cancers aren’t caused by inherited genes, and most men who develop prostate cancer don’t have a family history of it. But it can run in families – fewer than 1 in 10 prostate cancers are linked to inherited genes.
The risk of developing prostate cancer is higher if:
Knowing the signs of ovarian or prostate cancer
If you notice any of the following symptoms, talk to your GP. Most of the time, these changes won’t mean that you have cancer. But it’s important to get them checked out.
Talk to your GP if you have these symptoms at least 12 days in a month or if they continue for three weeks:
Talk to your GP if you:
If you’d like more information
If you’re worried that ovarian or prostate cancer might run in your family, you may find our information on inherited cancers or cancer genetics helpful.
We also have more detailed information about ovarian and prostate cancers.
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