Risk factors for epithelial ovarian cancer by histologic subtype

Am J Epidemiol. 2010 Jan 1;171(1):45-53. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwp314. Epub 2009 Nov 12.


Previous epidemiologic studies suggest that the major histologic subtypes of epithelial ovarian cancer may have different risk factor profiles; however, no known prospective study has systematically examined differences in risk by subtype. The authors used Cox proportional hazards regression, stratified by histologic subtype and time period, to examine the association between ovarian cancer risk factors and incidence of serous invasive, endometrioid, and mucinous ovarian cancers in the US Nurses' Health Study (1976-2006) and Nurses' Health Study II (1989-2005). For each exposure, they calculated P-heterogeneity using a likelihood ratio test comparing models with separate estimates for the 3 subtypes versus a single estimate across subtypes. Analysis included 221,866 women and 721 cases with the histologies of interest (496 serous invasive, 139 endometrioid, 86 mucinous). In analyses of reproductive/hormonal exposures, the associations with age, duration of breastfeeding, age at natural menopause, and duration of estrogen use differed significantly by subtype (all P-heterogeneity < or =0.05). The associations with several nonreproductive exposures also appeared to vary by subtype, but only the association with smoking differed significantly (P-heterogeneity = 0.03). Results suggest that associations with several ovarian cancer risk factors vary by subtype, and these differences are consistent with known similarities between each major histologic subtype and its normal tissue counterpart.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma, Mucinous / epidemiology
  • Adult
  • Area Under Curve
  • Carcinoma, Endometrioid / epidemiology
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Cystadenocarcinoma / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Statistical
  • Neoplasms, Glandular and Epithelial / epidemiology*
  • Neoplasms, Glandular and Epithelial / pathology
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology