Risks and warning signs of ovarian cancer
Women should be aware that the risk of ovarian cancer increases as they age. Half of the known cases of ovarian cancer affect women over the age of 63, according to specialists from the Chase Fox Oncology Centre in Philadelphia.
However, the centre reminds women that they need to know the risk factors and early warning signs of ovarian cancer, such as:
• Bloating or swelling of the abdomen
• Pain in the lower part of your abdomen
• Lumbar pain
• Lack of appetite or feeling of rapid satiety
• Unexplained weight loss
• Pain during sexual intercourse
• Menstrual changes
• Changes in the stool, such as constipation, diarrhea or urinary pain and frequent urination
“Although these symptoms are common and can be caused by something other than ovarian cancer, I recommend women treat these warning signs seriously,” said Dr Christina Chu, a gynaecologist oncologist at Fox Chase. “Women know what is normal for their body. If the symptoms do not seem normal and last for two weeks or longer, they should go to the doctor, ” Chu said in a hospital press release.
Ovarian cancer accounts for only about 3% of cancers that affect women, but even so it causes more deaths than any other type of cancer that appears in the reproductive system of women, the American Society of Oncology reports.
In addition to age, the centre claims that among the risk factors for ovarian cancer are:
A history of ovarian, breast or colon cancer in the family: if your mother, sister or daughter had ovarian cancer, you risk developing ovarian cancer as well. The more relatives you have that suffer from this form of disease, the greater the risk, and therefore you should take notice of any signs.
Inherited genetic mutations: nearly 10% of ovarian cancers are based on inherited genetic mutations, such as mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Other genetic mutations that cause certain syndromes are also associated with ovarian cancer or other cancers. “I recommend that women with a family history of cancer, such as breast cancer, ovarian cancer, colon cancer and endometrial cancer, should talk to their doctor about the risk of family history, and together they should establish the next steps,” Chu said.
Pregnancy history: successful full-term pregnancy before the age of 26 may reduce the risk of developing the disease. The more births you have, the lower the risk of ovarian cancer. Also breastfeeding reduces the risk of developing this type of cancer.
Contraception: using contraceptives for any length of time between three and six months can help reduce the risk of ovarian cancer. Administering them for a longer period can further reduce the risk of developing the disease. The benefits of contraceptive pills may persist for many years after stopping them. However, make sure to use contraceptives with caution, as they can affect your liver. Combine the use of contraceptives with something that protects the activity of your liver.
Hormone therapy: Hormone replacement therapy after menopause may increase the risk of ovarian cancer, especially if oestrogen-free progesterone is administered for more than five years.
Other Risk Factors: Obesity and breast cancer may increase your chances of developing ovarian cancer.