Ovarian Cancer: Risks and Warning Signs
The risk for having ovarian cancer heightens as the woman ages. Half of the total number of ovarian cancer cases affect older women aged 63 and up; this is based on the study done by the Philadelphia Fox Chase Cancer Center.
Apart from old age, the risk factors also include:
History of ovarian, colon, or breast cancer in the family. You have a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer if your mother, daughter, or sister has had these cancers.
Inherited mutation of the genes. More or less 10% of ovarian cancer cases are a result of inherited gene mutation.
Using hormone replacement therapy. If you use hormone replacement therapy to suppress the symptoms of menopause, then you are in higher risk for ovarian cancer. This is particular with estrogen-only hormone replacement.
Other risk factors. Women who are obese or have existing breast cancer also have higher risk for ovarian cancer.
On the other hand, women who have full-term pregnancy before reaching the age of 26 have lower risk for developing the disease. Furthermore, according to recent studies, mothers reduce the risk for ovarian cancer with every child; same goes with breastfeeding women. In addition, those who have used birth control pills for at least 3 months have a lower risk for ovarian cancer compared to those who have not taken the pill.
Common Warning Signs
Warning signs that you might have ovarian cancer include:
- Swelling or bloating of the belly
- Lower belly pain
- Feeling of fullness too quickly
- Back pain
- Pain during intercourse
- Inexplicable weight loss
- Changes in menstrual cycle
- Changes in bathroom habits (diarrhea, constipation, more frequent or less frequent urination than usual)
The abovementioned symptoms may be common and may be due to other causes, but women should take them seriously. As a woman, you should know what’s normal for your own body. If there are some changes that do not feel normal, seeing a doctor immediately is advised.