You should contact your doctor if you experience symptoms. Early diagnosis and treatment of ovarian cancer is important because the consequences of advanced ovarian cancer are so severe. Successful outcomes are associated with ovarian cancer that is detected and treated early.
Annual pelvic examinations are recommended for women over the age of 20 or earlier if they become sexually active. It is beneficial to reduce the risk factors that you can control, such as your weight. Women with a family history of ovarian cancer can get tested to find out if they have the gene that is associated with a high risk for developing ovarian cancer. Women with a very high risk for ovarian cancer may choose to have their ovaries removed before cancer develops.
Am I at Risk
Risk factors may increase your likelihood of developing ovarian cancer. Women with all of the risk factors may never develop the disease; however, the chance of developing ovarian cancer increases with the more risk factors you have. You should tell your doctor about your risk factors and discuss your concerns.
Risk factors for ovarian cancer:
_____ The majority of ovarian cancers occur in women over the age of 63 or after menopause.
However, ovarian cancer certainly occurs in younger women.
_____ Women who are overweight or obese have a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer.
Obesity is associated with higher death rates from ovarian cancer.
_____ Women who began menstruating before the age of 12 or who experienced menopause after the age of 50 have a higher risk for ovarian cancer.
_____ Women that have never given birth or who had their first child after the age of 30 have an increased risk for ovarian cancer. Women that had several children earlier in life appear to have a lower risk of ovarian cancer.
_____ Some studies suggest that prolonged use of the fertility drug Clomiphene citrate is associated with an increased risk of ovarian cancer, especially if a pregnancy did not occur. You should talk to your doctor about the risk if you are taking this medication.
_____ Infertility is associated with an increased risk of ovarian cancer.
_____ The risk of ovarian cancer is higher for women with a mother, sister, or daughter that had ovarian cancer, especially if the cancer occurred at a younger age. The genes responsible for ovarian cancer are linked to breast and colorectal cancer. Genetic testing is available to determine your risk if there is a history of ovarian cancer in your family.
_____ Women who have had breast cancer have a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer.
_____ Some studies suggest that estrogen hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is associated with an increased risk of ovarian cancer. The link is still being investigated. Ask your doctor about your risk if you received HRT after menopause.
_____ Some studies indicate that alcohol use and smoking increases the risk of ovarian cancer.
_____ Some studies suggest that there is a link between the use of talcum powder on the genital area and an increased risk for ovarian cancer. Over twenty years ago, talcum powder contained asbestos, a chemical possibly linked to cancer; however, asbestos is no longer a component of talcum powder.
In some cases, ovarian cancers can come back following treatment. Further, advanced ovarian cancer can spread to distant sites, including the lungs, liver, bones, gastrointestinal tract, urinary tract, and lymph nodes. Ovarian cancer has a higher cancer-related death rate than any other type of reproductive system cancer.
The relationship between genetics and ovarian cancer continues to be studied. Researchers hope to find methods to prevent ovarian cancer. Gene therapy to treat ovarian cancer is also being pursued. Additionally, treatments to boost the immune system to enable it to fight cancer are being researched.
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This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.
The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on February 16, 2022. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit www.iHealthSpot.com.