Thursday, September 18, 2014

Ovarian Cancer - Tips, Symptoms and Causes

Ovarian cancer (Cancer of Ovary) is the ninth most common cancer in women in the U.S. with almost 22,000 women newly diagnosed each year. Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths in women. In Australia, three women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer every day.

About 20% of ovarian cancers are found at an early stage. When ovarian cancer is found early at a localized stage, about 94% of patients live longer than 5 years after diagnosis. Several large studies are in progress to learn the best ways to find ovarian cancer in its earliest stage.

Ovarian Cancer Symptoms

According to the statement, the following symptoms are much more likely to occur in women with ovarian cancer than in women in the general population:
  • Bloating
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain
  • Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
  • Urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency)
"Women who have these symptoms almost daily for more than a few weeks should see their doctor, preferably a gynecologist," the organizations state.
The organizations note that "women with ovarian cancer report that symptoms are persistent and represent a change from normal for their bodies" and that several studies have highlighted these symptoms even in the early stages of ovarian cancer.
However, those symptoms don't always indicate ovarian cancer. Only doctors can diagnose ovarian cancer.


1. Some symptoms are particularly significant: take note of persistent bloating, pain in the pelvis or abdomen, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly and needing to wee more urgently or often than usual; particularly if the symptoms are new for you, they don’t go away and especially if they happen more than 12 times a month.

2. If you need more time because you have a number of concerns you can book a double appointment with your GP. Remember telephone appointments may be available if you have a specific issue you would like to discuss.

3. Help your GP as much as possible, in advance of your appointment write down anything you want to discuss and if there is something specific such as ovarian cancer you are worried about, then mention it to your GP.

4. If you feel something is seriously wrong then act early. After all, you know your own body. Talking to your GP about symptoms might save your life.

5. If your GP asks you to return if things haven’t improved, they really mean it.

6. If tests and investigations are negative and your symptoms persist, go back and see your GP - they are there to help.

7. If you think you need an appointment be assertive. Don’t put it off.

8. Keep a symptom diary if your symptoms persist. This can be useful not only for you but also when you see your GP.

9. If friends or family notice you are unwell or experiencing symptoms, act on their concerns and make an appointment with your GP, don’t dismiss their worries.

10. A normal smear test only rules out cancer of the cervix and no other female cancers such as ovarian and uterine (womb). If you are worried about ovarian cancer then say so.

Causes of Ovarian Cancer

Doctors do not know exactly what causes ovarian cancer. However, some factors and conditions may increase a woman's risk of developing this condition. The following are risk factors for the development of ovarian cancer:

1.    A family history of ovarian cancer: Women who have one or more close relatives with the disease have an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer. Certain genes, such as the BRCA 1 and 2 genes, are inherited and result in a high risk for development of ovarian cancer.

2.  A family history of breast or colon cancer also confers an increased risk for the development of ovarian cancer.

3.  Age: Women over 50 are more likely than younger women to get ovarian cancer, and the risk is even greater after age 60. About 50% of ovarian cancers occur in women over 60 years of age.

4.  Childbearing and menstruation: Women who have never given birth have a greater risk of developing ovarian cancer than women who have had children. In fact, the number of childbirths correlates directly with a decrease in risk for developing ovarian cancer. The likely explanation for this risk factor seems to be related to the number of menstrual periods a women has had in her lifetime. Those who began menstruating early (before age 12), had no children, had their first child after age 30, and/or experienced menopause after age 50 have a greater chance of developing ovarian cancer than the general population.

5.  Medications: Some studies show that women who have taken fertility drugs, or hormone therapy after menopause, may have a slightly increased risk of developing ovarian cancer. The use of oral contraceptive pills, on the other hand, seems to decrease a women's chance of getting the disease.

6.  The American Cancer society reports that obese women have a higher rate of death from ovarian cancer than women of normal weight.

7.   : Some studies report a slightly elevated risk of ovarian cancer in women who regularly apply talcum powder to the genital area. A similar risk has not been reported for cornstarch powders.

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