Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cancer amongst women in the UK and women over 50 are the most likely to develop this type of cancer (80% of cases affect women in this age group).
Symptoms of ovarian cancer
The symptoms of ovarian cancer can be difficult to recognise as they are often a sign of another condition. If you have any of the following symptoms for a month or more, or they occur for more than 12 days in any month, see your GP.
Note that these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have ovarian cancer, but you should always see your doctor to rule out the possibility of cancer.
If you are experiencing these symptoms, your doctor will carry out a vaginal examination to check for any lumps or swelling of the ovaries. You may also have to have further tests; initial tests usually include a blood test and an ultrasound.
Physical and hormonal risk factors for ovarian cancer
Although the causes of ovarian cancer are not fully understood, there are some factors which appear to be linked to ovarian cancer.
Factors which decrease your risk of developing ovarian cancer include:
Factors which increase your risk of developing ovarian cancer include:
At the moment there is no current screening for ovarian cancer as no singular test has proved reliable. If you are worried about your risk of ovarian cancer, talk to your GP.
Lifestyle risk factors
Staying fit and healthy, which includes being physically active and eating a balanced diet increases your risk of many cancers and diseases and can prolong your life.
There are some things you can change to decrease your risk of ovarian cancer. These include:
Types of ovarian cancer
Approximately 90% of ovarian cancer cases are epithelial ovarian cancer, this means that the epithelial ovarian cancer started in the surface layer covering the ovary.
This type of ovarian cancer includes:
Around 2% of ovarian cancers diagnosed are germ cell cancers. They develop from the egg making cells of the ovary. There are also other rare types of cancer such as stromal tumours and sarcomas.
Boderline ovarian tumours do not grow into the supportive tissue of the ovary and are usually cured with surgery.
Treatment for ovarian cancer
Early stage ovarian cancer can often be cured by surgery to remove the cancer. This is often done in combination with chemotherapy. More advanced staged ovarian cancer is treated in the same way, though sometimes chemotherapy is done before surgery in order to shrink the cancer and increase the chances of removing it through surgery.
To decrease your risk of ovarian cancer, you can stop smoking, and watch your weight by doing physical exercise such as walking and swimming, and eating a healthy, balanced diet. For more tips on health and wellbeing, don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.