It has not been established as to what causes ovarian cancer. It refers to a malignant growth in one or both ovaries. Ovarian cancer has few early warning signs or symptoms so it is generally found only when you have medical tests for other illnesses or maybe a surgery like a hysterectomy.
While the cause of ovarian cancer cannot be determined there are a few risk factors that must be considered. Genetic factors are a main risk factor as if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer you are more at risk.
Certain women carry mutations of the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene and are seen to be at high risk for developing ovarian cancer and that too at a very early age. Older women and women who have never had children are at risk.
If you already have a history of say breast or colon cancer then the chances of you developing ovarian cancer are also higher.
Physicians have determined that if a woman has many children she is less at risk for ovarian cancer. If she uses oral contraceptive pills or has her first child early and the last child at an older age then the risks are less. Why this is so hasn’t been determined.
Ovarian cancer doesn’t have symptoms but as the cancer develops there are warning signs you need to look out for:
If your menstrual cycle is out of kilter or you have vaginal bleeding; if your weight is fluctuating and the need to urinate increases; if you have back aches and a heavy feeling in your pelvic area, then you must a undergo tests for ovarian cancer.
The hormones of ovarian tumors also cause disproportionate hair growth. Ovarian cancer also causes some cells to grow quickly that are associated with hair growth and the mouth.
So you may also find hair falling out or you may develop ulcers in the mouth.
Ovarian cancer can spread to other parts of the body such as tissues and organs, the abdominal membrane, or the diaphragm, forming new tumors. Sometimes fluid can collect in the abdomen, giving you a bloated feeling or a swollen abdomen.
The above symptoms could be the manifestation of any kind of illness and need not be of ovarian cancer only but it’s best to get it checked. You may be asked to undergo a biopsy or take imaging scans, which will reveal the tumor as ovarian or not. The treatment that follows will be based on your age and the stage at which the cancer is.
Surgery will be the main option followed by chemotherapy to eliminate any residues of the cancer. If you feel that you are at risk of developing ovarian cancer then consult your gynecologist and have regular checkups. You can even get your ovaries removed if you are in a high risk group.
Remember, ovarian cancer shows no symptoms but if you experience any of the warning signs mentioned above make an immediate appointment with your physician and rule out the risk.