It is a few days to World Ovarian Cancer day which is the 8th of May annually, availing us the opportunity to create more awareness to all of our audience on what Ovarian cancer is all about. Today, we take a look at what Ovarian cancer is, its risk factors and the symptoms it often presents with.
What is Ovarian Cancer?
Ovarian cancer refers to cancerous growth that that takes root in the ovary. The ovaries are two glands found on either side of the uterus, they constitute an essential part of the female reproductive system. The ovaries produce ova commonly referred to as eggs on a monthly basis in a normal female ovarian cycle. Estrogen and progesterone are reproductive hormones also produced by the ovaries. The eggs and hormones produced by the ovary contribute to a woman’s fertility and any disruption as in this case ovarian cancer could pose a lot of problem. This therefore emphasizes the need for better insight and awareness to help curb the menace of ovarian cancer and bring its consequence to the barest minimum.
Medical research is yet to find the root cause of ovarian cancer, but there have been a number of factors known to contribute to the incidence of the disease. A good number of them include:
- A positive family history of the disease among two or more close relatives increases the risk of a person developing ovarian cancer.
- Findings of mutation of BRCA1 and 2 genes on genetic screening is a strong pointer to predisposition to the disease.
- Patients who have had breast cancer previously have also been found to be at risk of developing ovarian cancer as implicated by mutations in the same BRCA gene.
- Ovarian cancer is often seen among women aged 50 and above who have gone through menopause.
- Estrogen hormone replacement therapy over time used by post-menopausal women has been found to increase risk to the disease also.
- Early onset of menstruation in young girls and late onset of menopause may also pose higher predisposition to ovarian cancer.
- The more children a woman gives birth to and breastfeeds reduce risk to ovarian cancer. Late procreation of age 35 and upwards increases risk as well as no pregnancy history.
- Women with Body mass index (BMI) of 30 and above are at higher risk, especially with poor dietary choices.
Ovarian cancer in its early stage is often asymptomatic and therefore goes unnoticed. Even in the later stages, it presents with symptoms that are often overlooked as premenstrual symptoms which often come and go. With time, the symptoms tend to be long lasting and intense. The symptoms commonly seen include:
- Feeling full quickly when eating.
- Bloated abdomen which could be painful.
- Vaginal bleeding which is unexplained.
- A change in urination habit, often more frequent with increased urge.
- Gastrointestinal symptoms such as indigestion, heartburn and constipation.
- Irregular menstrual period.
- Dyspareunia, pain during sexual intercourse.
However, as earlier stated, the above listed symptoms do not necessarily diagnose ovarian cancer as it could be other minor problems going on in the body. It is therefore imperative to seek medical consultation promptly.
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