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Ovarian Cancer: Causes, Symptoms, Prevention And Treatment

Ovarian cancer is considered to be specifically dangerous because it usually goes undetected until it has spread within the pelvis and abdomen. Here's all you need to know about ovarian cancer.

Ovarian Cancer: Causes, Symptoms, Prevention And Treatment

Causes of ovarian cancer may include inherited gene mutations


  1. Being on hormone therapy can increase risks of ovarian cancer
  2. Ovarian cancer is more common in old age
  3. Menstruation age can determine your risks of ovarian cancer

Ovarian cancer is a kind of cancer which begins in the ovaries, which are on each side of the uterus. Ovaries are usually the size of an almond, and are responsible for producing eggs and hormones oestrogen and progesterone. Ovarian cancer is considered to be specifically dangerous because it usually goes undetected until it has spread within the pelvis and abdomen. It is more difficult to treat ovarian cancer at this stage and it gets fatal too. Ovarian cancer can be treated successfully when the cancer cells are still confined to ovaries only. Ovarian cancer, like most other cancers, is treated with the help of surgeries and chemotherapies. The problematic part is that ovarian cancer is rarely detected at an early stage. At an advanced stage, ovarian cancer shows a few symptoms which aren't specific to cancer alone. These symptoms can be easily mistake for conditions more benign than cancer. These symptoms include swelling or bloating in the abdomen, feeling quickly full when eating, sudden and unexplained weight loss, changes in bowel habits like constipation, frequent need to urinate and discomfort in the pelvis area.

ovarian cancer

Ovarian cancer is more common in old age
Photo Credit: iStock

Causes of ovarian cancer

Any disturbance or error in the mutations in DNA of cells can lead to cancer. At times, the cell mutations grow and multiple at a pace which is quicker than normal. This creates a tumour of abnormal cells. These abnormal cells continue to live even when healthy cells die. They invade nearby tissues and break from an initial tumour which can spread to other parts of the body.

Also read: Stomach Cancer: 5 Things You Need To Know

Risk factors of ovarian cancer

There are some factors which can make you more prone to ovarian cancer.

1. Inherited gene mutations

Some people get ovarian cancer because of the gene mutations they inherit from parents. Genes which increase risk of ovarian cancer are known as breast cancer gene 1 (BRCA1) and breast cancer gene 2 (BRCA2). Apart from ovarian cancer, these genes also increase risks of breast cancer.

2. Old age

While ovarian cancer can occur in women of all ages, they are most common among women between ages 50 to 60.

3. Family history

Ovarian cancer is more common among people who have the condition in their family history. Having 2 or more close relatives with ovarian cancer puts you at higher risk of ovarian cancer.

4. Hormone replacement therapy

People who are on oestrogen hormone replacement therapy are at higher risks of ovarian cancer. Long-term use of the therapy in large doses further increases risks of hormone replacement therapy.

5. Menstruation age

The age at which you begin with menstruation and the age when you get menopausal can both play huge role in determining your risks of ovarian cancer. Beginning with menstruation at an early stage or starting with menopause at an age later than normal, or both, can increase risk of ovarian cancer.


Age of menstruation and menopause can determine your risks of getting ovarian cancer
Photo Credit: iStock

Also read: Lung Cancer: 7 Ways To Lower Lung Cancer Risk

Types of ovarian cancer

The kind of ovarian cancer is determined by the kind of cell in which the cancer began. Epithelial, stromal and germ cell are the three kinds of tumours which can cause ovarian cancer.

Epithelial tumours begin in the thin tissue layer which covers outside of the ovaries. A majority of ovarian cancers, almost 90% of them, are epithelial tumours.

Stromal tumours, on the other hand, begin in the ovarian tissue which contains cells that produce hormones. These hormones are usually diagnosed at an earlier stage as compared to ovarian tumours. Incidence of stromal tumours is quite less.

Germ cell tumours begin in egg producing cells. Ovarian cancer caused by germ cell tumours are rare and occur mostly in younger women.

Also read: Thyroid Cancer: Causes, Symptoms And Treatments For Thyroid Cancer

Prevention of ovarian cancer

1. Birth control pills

You can take your doctor's recommendation if birth control pills are right for you. Women who use oral contraceptive pills are less prone to risks of ovarian cancer. Nonetheless, even birth control pills come with their share of risk factors. Consumption of birth control pills must be done under the supervision of an expert.


Discuss risk factors with your doctor in order to prevent ovarian cancer
Photo Credit: iStock

2. Discuss risk factors with your doctor

In case you have breast cancer or ovarian cancer in the family history, do discuss it with your doctor. It will help your doctor diagnose how prone you are to risks of ovarian cancer. Your doctor might also consult a genetic counsellor for any genetic testing if required. In case of suspected genetic mutations which can increase risks of ovarian cancer, you might be suggested to get your ovaries removed in order to prevent cancer.

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Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.


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