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Who is at Risk?

Though gynecologic cancers can affect any woman, some women may be at greater risk. Recognizing the risk factors can help women take advantage of available health screenings that can detect problems before they become serious. More importantly, many risk factors signal a need to change one’s lifestyle—by taking control and eliminating behaviors or conditions that can lead to cancer.

Risks vary depending on the type of cancer, but there are some common threads.

Your Risk May be Higher When You...

  • Are at or beyond the age of menopause (50+)
  • Have a family history of ovarian cancer or cancers of the uterus, colon, or breast
  • Have never been pregnant or have had infertility problems
  • Are obese
  • Have hypertension, diabetes, chronic vulvar irritation, or late menopause
  • Use the medication tamoxifen or use unopposed estrogen
  • Don't have regular Pap screenings or have a history of abnormal pap smears
  • Smoke
  • Have had multiple sexual partners
  • First had intercourse before the age of sixteen
  • Are infected with HIV or HPV

Taking good care of oneself and following a physician’s recommendations for regular care and screenings can go a long way toward avoiding cancer and other diseases.