Ovarian cancer, or cancer of the ovaries, is one of the most common types of cancer in women.
The ovaries are a pair of small organs located low in the tummy that are connected to the womb and store a woman’s supply of eggs.
Ovarian cancer mainly affects women who have been through the menopause (usually over the age of 50), but it can sometimes affect younger women.
#Types of ovarian cancer
The ovaries are made up of three types of cells. Each cell can develop into a different type of tumor:
1. Epithelial tumors form in the layer of tissue on the outside of the ovaries. About 90 percent of ovarian cancers are epithelial tumors.
2. Stromal tumors grow in the hormone-producing cells. Seven percent of ovarian cancers are stromal tumors.
3. Germ cell tumors develop in the egg-producing cells. Germ cell tumors are rare.
Women with ovarian cancer may have no symptoms or just mild symptoms until the disease is in an advanced stage. Then it is hard to treat. Symptoms may include:
1. A heavy feeling in the pelvis
2. Pain in the lower abdomen
3. Bleeding from the vagina
4. Weight gain or loss
5. Abnormal periods
6. Unexplained back pain that gets worse
7. Gas, nausea, vomiting, or loss of appetite
To diagnose ovarian cancer, doctors do one or more tests. They include a physical exam, a pelvic exam, lab tests, ultrasound, or a biopsy. Treatment is usually surgery
#What are the risk factors for ovarian cancer?
The following may increase your chances of getting ovarian cancer: a high-fat diet, never having children or not having children until late in life, infertility, using fertility drugs but not becoming pregnant, starting your periods at a young age or going through menopause at an older than average age, use of talcum powder on the genital area, belonging to the Caucasian race or being of Jewish descent, and having a family history of ovarian or breast cancer. Of these risk factors, the most significant is a family history of breast and/or ovarian cancer. Having one close relative with ovarian cancer increases a woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer by nearly three times. There also are a number of factors that are associated with a lower risk of ovarian cancer, including use of birth control pills, having multiple children, breast feeding, tubal ligation and having the ovaries removed. Even with significant risk factors such as family history, the overall chances of getting ovarian cancer are still small.
#Is ovarian cancer hereditary?
Most ovarian cancers are not inherited. However, about 5 percent to 10 percent of ovarian cancers do run in families. Generally, the risk of developing ovarian cancer increases as the number of family members affected by ovarian cancer increases. Having a first-degree relative affected by ovarian cancer (for example, a mother or a sister) increases a woman’s lifetime risk from 1.4 percent to 3.1 percent. Sometimes ovarian, breast and other cancers seem to run in families. Talk to your doctor about genetic tests that can tell you more about your chances of getting ovarian cancer.
#What can I do to prevent ovarian cancer?
There are no known ways to guarantee the prevention of ovarian cancer. Women who are diagnosed in an early stage, however, have a higher survival rate. Unfortunately, ovarian cancer is usually not diagnosed at an early stage. Currently, no effective methods for diagnosing ovarian cancer earltumorst.