Ovarian cancer : Know your risk
Ovarian cancer is cancer that begins in the ovaries. This type of cancer usually goes undetected until it has spread to the pelvis or abdomen. In its advanced stage, it is hard to treat and usually fatal.
The exact cause of ovarian cancer is unknown. However it begins when genetic mutation causes normal cells to grow into abnormal cells. These cells usually multiply quickly and form a mass ( tumor).
Are you at risk ?
Your risk for getting this type of cancer increases when you fall into the following category.
- women ages 50 to 60
- inherited gene mutation : The genes breast cancer gene 1 (BRCA1) and breast cancer gene 2 (BRCA2) which were originally identified in families with multiple cases of breast cancer significantly increase your risk for ovarian cancer.
- if you’ve had estrogen hormone replacement therapy especially in large doses or long-term
- you started menstruating before the age of 12 or went through menopause after age 52
- have undergone fertility treatment
- never been pregnant
- have polycystic ovarian syndrome
- use an intrauterine device
If you have a genetic predisposition to ovarian cancer, your doctor may recommend regular imaging tests as well blood tests to screen for the disease.
What are the symptoms of ovarian cancer ?
Early stages of this cancer rarely causes any symptoms . However its advanced stage may cause symptoms that mimic common health conditions like constipation and irritable bowel disease . Signs include :
- weight loss
- abdominal discomfort
- abdominal bloating and swelling
- feel full quickly when you eat
- frequent need to urinate
- changes in bowel habits such as constipation
If you have these symptoms and feel uncomfortable, see your doctor for a check up. He will perform a physical examination. The doctor may also recommend imaging tests and blood test if there is the need for it.
How is ovarian cancer treated ?
It is usually treated with surgery follow by chemotherapy. In some women advanced stage ovarian cancer, chemotherapy may be used as the initial treatment.
Ovarian cancer. National library of Medicine. MedlinePlus. https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ovariancancer.html. Accessed February 5, 2016
Ovrian cancer. Mayo Foundation. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/ovarian-cancer/basics/definition/con-20028096. Accessed February 5, 2016