Background: Ovarian carcinoma is not a single disease, but rather a collection of subtypes with differing molecular properties and risk profiles. The most common of these, and the subject of this work, is high-grade serous ovarian carcinoma (HGSC).

Methods: In this population-based study we identified a cohort of 441,382 women resident in Western Australia who had ever been admitted to hospital in the State. Of these, 454 were diagnosed with HGSC. We used Cox regression to derive hazard ratios (HRs) comparing the risk of disease in women who had each of a range of medical diagnoses and surgical procedures with women who did not.

Results: We found an increased risk of HGSC associated with a diagnosis of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) (HR 1.47, 95% CI 1.04–2.07) but not with a diagnosis of infertility or endometriosis with HRs of 1.12 (95% CI 0.73–1.71) and 0.82 (95% CI 0.55–1.22) respectively. A personal history of breast cancer was associated with a three-fold increase in the rate of HGSC. Increased parity was associated with a reduced risk of HGSC in women without a personal history of breast cancer (HR 0.57; 95% CI 0.44-0.73), but not in women with a personal history of breast cancer (HR 1.48; 95% CI 0.74–2.95).

Conclusions: Our finding of an increased risk of HGSC associated with PID lends support to the hypothesis that inflammatory processes may be involved in the etiology of HGSC.


pelvic inflammatory disease, parity, endometriosis, infertility, hysterectomy, tubal ligation, ovarian neoplasms, breast neoplasms, cohort studies

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