To date, there are no ideal screening tools: pelvic examinations are not nearly sensitive enough to detect small ovarian tumours; ultrasound cannot distinguish a cancer from a harmless cyst; and the commonest blood test misses half of early ovarian cancers and often reads positive for other reasons, including other kinds of cancer and certain benign conditions. The biggest risk factor is heredity, and in some families a strong susceptibility seems to be inherited through a gene or group of genes to a woman by her mother; there is also suggestion that transmission can occur through a woman's father.
The lifetime risk of dying from ovarian cancer in the USA is 1.1%. Each of the following factors approximately doubles the average woman's risk of ovarian cancer: never having had a baby, having used talcum powder on the perineal area for many years, being infertile (and perhaps having taken fertility drugs) and having had breast cancer. A diet high in meat and animal fats also plays a role. In Japan, as daily fat consumption increased from 10.6 grams to a still-low 84.5 grams, incidence of ovarian cancer nearly doubled. The other important risk factor is afamily history of ovarian cancer. Less than 0.1% of women are affected by hereditary ovarian cancer syndrome, but these women may face a 40% lifetime risk of developing ovarian cancer.
The male condom is now suspected of helping cause cancer and infertility. The problem being that talcum powder is used by some manufacturers as a dry lubricant. Talcum powder has been shown to cause ovarian cancer and fibrosis on the fallopian tubes in women, leading to infertility. The US Food and Drug Administration had banned the use of talc on surgical gloves but not on condoms (as of 1995).