risk of ovarian cancer increases with age. Almost half of the ovarian cancer cases are seen in women older than 63 years of age. Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of gynecological cancer-related deaths among women between the ages of 35 and 74 years. Most forms of ovarian cancer develop after a woman reaches menopause. Below are few common risk factors for ovarian cancer:
- Previously having breast cancer raises the risk of developing ovarian cancer.
Estrogen hormone replacement therapy:
- Taking estrogen after menopause increases the risk for ovarian cancer. The risk is higher for women who take estrogen without progesterone for at least five years.
- A woman may be at risk if she has a first-degree relative—that is, a daughter, sister, or mother—who has had ovarian cancer. Her risk is particularly high if two or more first-degree relatives have had this cancer.
- A family history of breast or colon cancer also has been associated with an increased risk of ovarian cancer.
- Women who have a strong family history of breast cancer sometimes opt to get checked for the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, which are linked to a high risk of breast cancer. Being a carrier of either one of these genes also is associated with an increased risk of ovarian cancer.
- Taking the fertility drug for more than one year increases the risk of getting ovarian cancer. The risk seems the highest in women who did not get pregnant while on the drug.
- Women of reproductive age with enlarged ovaries, who experience abnormal menstruation, excess facial hair, severe acne, or male-patterned baldness caused by increased levels of male hormones, are at higher risk for developing ovarian cancer.
Pregnancy after age 35 or never being pregnant:
- Women, in either case, are at higher risk for developing ovarian cancer.
- Obesity has been linked to an increased risk of many forms of cancer. Researchers believe that women with a body mass index of at least 30 may be at a higher risk of ovarian cancer.
- Researchers have linked smoking to an increased risk of a type of ovarian cancer called mucinous ovarian cancer.
Hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer (HNPCC)
- Women with this syndrome are at an increased risk of developing cancer of the colon, uterus, and ovaries. The lifetime risk of developing ovarian cancer for women with HNPCC is approximately 10 percent.
- This rare genetic syndrome causes stomach and intestine polyps (a small growth protruding from the inner lining of the gut) in teenagers. It also increases a person’s risk of cancer, especially of the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and colon. Women with Peutz–Jeghers syndrome are also at an increased risk of ovarian cancer.
- This syndrome causes polyps in the small intestine and colon. It increases the risk of ovarian cancer in women, colon cancer, and bladder cancer.
What is ovarian cancer?
Ovarian cancer is a relatively uncommon type of cancer that arises from different types of cells within the ovary, an almond-shaped egg-producing female reproductive organ. Similar cancer can also start on the fallopian tube or the peritoneum and the inner lining of the abdomen, and the fallopian tube may actually be the initial source for ovarian cancer in most cases. Symptoms of ovarian cancer may include:
- Stomach discomforts, such as indigestion, nausea, swelling, or cramps
- Diarrhea, constipation, or frequent urination
- Decreased appetite
- Feeling full after even a light meal
- Unexplained weight gain or loss
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding
- Pain during intercourse
Treatment options: Ovarian cancer treatment depends upon the stage of cancer, size of the tumor, and age and health of the woman. Most often, ovarian cancer is treated with a combination of surgery and chemotherapy.
- Surgery: Surgery is the most common treatment for ovarian cancer. Surgery options can include:
- Salpingo-oophorectomy: Removal of one or both ovaries and fallopian tubes
- Debulking: Removal of as much of the tumor as possible
- Hysterectomy: Removal of the uterus and sometimes the cervix
- Omentectomy: Removal of the fatty tissue that covers the organs in the lower abdomen
- External beam radiation treatments may be used for recurring ovarian cancer. During this treatment, a high-energy beam of radiation is directed to the tumor for a few minutes. This procedure is repeated five days a week for several weeks.
- Special drugs designed to kill cancer cells can be given as a pill, as intravenous (IV), or injected into the abdominal cavity. Chemotherapy can be given in combination with surgery.
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Can a Blood Test Detect Ovarian Cancer?A doctor may advise a blood test to patients having ovarian cancer. A cancer antigen-125 (CA-125) blood test is usually recommended to measure the levels of a protein called CA-125, which could be elevated in women who have ovarian cancer. This test is also used during the treatment of ovarian cancer because the level of this protein goes down as the tumor shrinks. This protein is elevated in more than 80 percent of women with advanced ovarian cancers and 50 percent of those with early-stage cancers.
Can You Be Fully Cured of Ovarian Cancer?Around two in ten women with advanced-stage ovarian cancer are effectively cured and survive at least 12 years after the treatment as per the research. Your response to cancer therapy and chances for a cure depend on the type and the staging of ovarian cancer at the time of diagnosis.
Can You See Ovarian Cancer on an Ultrasound?An ultrasound of the pelvis is usually the first test that is ordered to see if there is any problem with the ovaries or other pelvic organs. It can detect ovarian masses and help the doctor know if they are fluid-filled ovarian cysts or ovarian tumors. If the doctor suspects ovarian cancer, they may order additional tests.
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Does Ovarian Cancer Show Up on Blood Work?A person with ovarian cancer may have high levels of a substance called the CA-125 (cancer or carcinoma antigen-125) in the blood. CA-125 antigen is known by several other names, such as ovarian cancer antigen and CA-125 tumor marker. It is a protein present on the surface of most (but not all) ovarian cells. Thus, significantly high levels of CA-125 may be seen in the blood of ovarian cancer patients.
How Long Do You Have to Live With Stage IV Ovarian Cancer?Stage IV cancer means the disease has already spread to distant organs. In most patients diagnosed with stage IV ovarian cancer, the 5-year survival rate is approximately 17%.
What Are the Stages of Ovarian Cancer?Ovarian cancer is a disease where abnormal cells in the ovary begin to grow and divide uncontrollably, forming a mass of undifferentiated tumor cells. These cells tend to invade nearby and distant sites in the body, deteriorating their function. The ovaries are pair of internal reproductive glands found only in females.
Is There a Blood Test for Ovarian Cancer?The CA-125 blood test is one of clinical assessments used to diagnose ovarian cancer. However, CA-125 or other tumor markers alone are insufficient to diagnose ovarian cancer.
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Ovarian CancerThere are many types of ovarian cancer, epithelial carcinoma is the most common. Women with a family history of ovarian cancer have an increased risk of developing the disease. Some ovarian cancer symptoms include abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, and abnormal vaginal bleeding, however, they usually do not present until the disease has progressed. Early diagnosis is important for successful treatment.
Ovarian Cancer SlidesOvarian cancer symptoms and signs include abdominal pain, bloating, frequent urination, and a feeling of fullness. Ovarian cancer treatment depends on the stage and may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and targeted therapy.
Ovarian Cancer QuizHow common is ovarian cancer and who is at risk? Take our Ovarian Cancer Quiz to learn the causes, symptoms, and treatment for this disease.
paclitaxelPaclitaxel is a chemotherapy drug used to treat various types of cancers including ovarian cancer, breast cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, and AIDS-related Kaposi sarcoma. Common side effects of paclitaxel include blood disorders, bleeding, infections, injection site reaction, leakage of drug out of the vein (extravasation), skin rash, hair loss (alopecia), hypersensitivity reactions, severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis), severe skin reactions, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sore mouth (stomatitis), and others. Do not use if pregnant or breastfeeding.
What Are the Main Causes of Ovarian Cancer?Each cell in the body survives, grows, and dies under regulated conditions. The term cancer means an uncontrolled growth of cells.
What Are the Symptoms of Stage 1 Ovarian Cancer?At stage 1 of ovarian cancer, the cancer is present only in the ovaries i.e. it has not spread in any other organs. Signs and symptoms at this stage may include a mass felt in the abdomen, distension or swelling of abdomen, abnormal vaginal bleeding (between menstrual periods or after menopause) and other signs. Stage 1 ovarian cancer has no symptoms in many women, however; often they may not experience symptoms until the cancer has spread significantly.
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What Was Your First Sign of Ovarian Cancer?Like all types of cancer, ovarian cancer is often asymptomatic. The first signs of ovarian cancer may vary from patient to patient. Typically, ovarian cancer symptoms might appear as common stomach and digestive problems that are often mistaken for minor ailments.