What Is the Incidence of Ovarian Cancer in Polycystic Ovary Disease?

By Christy Bowles

According to the National Institutes of Health, polycystic ovary syndrome(PCOS) is a female reproductive condition caused by an excess of androgynous hormones. These hormones stimulate the ovaries, but also block the normal ovulatory processes, and multiple fluid-filled sacs, cysts, develop on the outer surface of the ovary. According report from Penn State University, there is no correlation between the presence of POCS and the incidence of ovarian cancer.

Causes of PCOS

Experts at the Mayo Clinic note that the exact cause of PCOS is not understood. Studies indicate that the pituitary glands in women with PCOS may produce higher levels of hormones, increasing the levels of androgens and disrupting normal ovulatory cycles. Doctors have determined that genetic predisposition, excess insulin, fetal development and low-grade inflammation may all contribute to PCOS.


According to the NIH, the symptoms of PCOS include pelvic pain, excessive growth of hair, hair loss or thinning of hair, and oily skin or acne. Women with PCOS often have irregular menstrual cycles, with a lack of normal bleeding. Women also experience infertility and may be at higher risk for miscarriage.


The NIH notes that there is no cure for PCOS, but there are methods to treat the symptoms. Birth-control pills are used to treat hormonal imbalances, which can regulate menstruation and reduce the incidence of ovarian cysts. Self-care and lifestyle changes are also important aspects of treatment, and doctors at the Mayo Clinic note that dietary changes, such as lower consumption of carbohydrates, can improve the condition.


Doctors at the NIH note that PCOS can lead to complications and associated conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. Proper treatment with hormones, regular exercise and consumption of a healthy, well-balanced diet can be key to minimizing these risks.

PCOS and Ovarian Cancer

According to a report from Penn State University, women with PCOS may be at increased risk for endometrial cancer, but there is no conclusive evidence that there is a higher incidence of ovarian or breast cancer in women with PCOS. A study by Angiolo Gadducci and colleagues at the University of Pisa in Italy, published in "Gynecological Endocrinology" in 2005, outlines similar findings and calls for more in-depth research on the causes and risk factors for women with PCOS.

© Demand Media 2011