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9 Risk Factors For Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer is a type of cancer that affects the ovaries. It is not usually noticeable until it has spread to the pelvis and abdomen. Ovarian cancer is the eighth most common cancer in women and fifth leading cause of death. It is difficult to treat and is fatal, but with early detection, ovarian cancer can be treated successfully. There is no specific cause for ovarian cancer. Like any other cancer, it is believed to occur due to mutations in the DNA of the ovarian cells.

Risk factors for ovarian cancer

The following factors may increase the risk of developing ovarian cancer.

Women of all ages have the risk of getting ovarian cancer. But, as a woman’s age increases the risk of developing cancer also increases. About 68% of women with ovarian cancer are older than 55 years, and 32% are younger than 55.

Family history
Women who have a family history of ovarian cancer are at an increased risk of developing the disease. About 10% of cancer cases are associated with family history.

About 10% to 15% of ovarian cancers occur because of a gene mutation that has been passed down within the family. BRCA 1 and BRCA2 are the two genes that help to repair the damage caused to DNA. Mutations in these genes lead to ovarian cancer. Though mutations in these genes are usually associated with breast cancer, they carry a notable lifetime risk of ovarian cancer.

Studies have proved that obese women are at a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer.

Genetic conditions
There are several genetic conditions linked to increasing the risk of ovarian cancer. They include:

Hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer (HNPCC) is a condition caused by inherited genes and is also known as Lynch syndrome. Women with HNPCC have a slight risk of developing ovarian cancer. Usually, it is developed in young women with a strong family history. This condition may sometimes lead to colon and endometrial cancer.

Peutz-Jeghers syndrome (PJS) is caused by a specific genetic mutation and is also associated with the multiple polyps in the digestive tract. It increases the risk of ovarian cancer.

Nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome (NBCCS) is commonly known as Gorlin syndrome. Women with this syndrome have an increased risk of developing fibromas which are benign tumors of the ovaries.

Li-Fraumeni syndrome and ataxia-telangiectasia may also increase the risk of developing ovarian cancer in women.

Endometriosis is a condition in which the inner lining of the woman’s uterus grows outside the uterus, affecting other nearby organs, causing several problems. It is one of the risk factors for ovarian cancer, such as clear cell and endometrioid ovarian cancers.

Late menopause/Early menstruation

Women whose menstruation cycle starts before the age of 12 or those who do not reach menopause until after the age of 50 are at a risk of developing ovarian cancer.

History of breast or colon cancer
Women who have a history of breast or colon cancer are at risk for ovarian cancer.

Delayed childbirth
Conceiving the first child after age 30 or never having a child can increase the risk of developing ovarian cancer.


The information provided here is for your education only. It is not intended to replace a consultation with a licensed physician. It is not to be construed as a medical advice nor is it to be used for any emergency health need you may be experiencing.

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How To Detect An Ovarian Cancer In The Early Stage?

Cancer can affect almost all the body parts. Breast cancer and ovarian cancer are the most common cancers in women. Ovarian cancer is proved to be the eighth most common cancer and the second most commonly diagnosed gynaecological malignancy in women1. Ovarian cancer occurs in the cells of ovaries (reproductive glands that produce ova or eggs) and is the most deadly cancer of female reproductive system. It is often called “The Silent Killer” as it doesn’t show symptoms for a long time. The exact cause of ovarian cancer is still not known. But there are theories that women aging between 50 and 60 and, women who have used an intrauterine device, or estrogen hormone replacement therapy or fertility treatments are at higher risk of developing this cancer.

Early detection is the greatest hope of surviving ovarian cancer. Therefore, you should be aware of the various signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer. Only 20% of ovarian cancers are detected at an early stage. You are likely to experience symptoms when cancer has spread beyond the ovaries, but even early-stage cancer can cause them.

The following symptoms are related to ovarian cancer. Keep them in mind, as it can be a key to an early detection of the disease and helps to receive timely treatment.

It is a common symptom for a variety of health problems and is most commonly seen in women. It’s ok to wait for a week or two to see if this goes away, but if bloating doesn’t get better with time or if it is associated with weight loss or other symptoms, then you should immediately see the doctor.

Abdominal or pelvic pain
Pain in the abdomen and pelvis may also be seen during the menstrual cycle, but the regular and severe pain is something you should make a note of.
Trouble eating or feeling full quickly

Occasional trouble in swallowing is not a big deal, but when it happens very often along with vomiting or weight loss, you should see the doctor because it may be a clue for early cancer detection.

Urinary symptoms such as urgency or frequency
If you suddenly start to feel frequent and uncontrolled urination accompanied with pain or burning, it indicates the weakness of the pelvic floor muscles or may also be clear symptoms of urinary tract infection. However, you should meet the doctor since these are also common symptoms of ovarian cancer.

Along with abdominal bloating, symptoms such as indigestion and constipation, or any change in bowel habits are also warning signs of ovarian cancer. So, please don’t ignore them!

Lower back pain
If you suddenly start experiencing pain in the lower back region without any reason, this can also be another symptom of the disease.

Increase in the size of the abdomen
Occasionally, the size of the abdomen may increase due to indigestion, bloating, etc. But, do remember it is one of the signs of ovarian cancer.

Most of the people experience fatigue due to a variety of health problems including stress. But this is the common symptom of ovarian cancer. You may feel tired and weak very often, which indicates that something is not right.

Pain with sexual activity
If instead of enjoying sexual activity, you suffer from extreme pain, consult the doctor as this is also a common sign of ovarian cancer.

Unexpected weight loss or gain
Most of you may feel happy when you lose weight without workouts, but it is important for you to know that this is not normal and may be a sign of ovarian cancer. Same is true with weight gain. You may experience loss of appetite and feel full all the time.

You may also experience symptoms such as vaginal bleeding, nausea or vomiting, anemia and frequent stomach pain.

All the above-mentioned symptoms are commonly seen in many other types of cancers. But, when they are caused by ovarian cancer, they occur more often and are more severe. If you experience all these symptoms more than 12 times a month, then you should consult the doctor immediately.

Persistence of symptoms is a hallmark of many cancers. So please, don’t wait longer than two weeks if any of the symptoms mentioned above persist. Meet your physician for early diagnosis! You need not have all of these symptoms, but even one of the symptoms can be a clue that saves your life. You should get checked without fail especially if you are at risk of developing ovarian cancer.

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The information provided here is for your education only. It is not intended to replace a consultation with a licensed physician. It is not to be construed as a medical advice nor is it to be used for any emergency health need you may be experiencing.

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MTMC MEDI-INFO wishes to all a very bright, colorful and joyful Holi.
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