Ovarian Cancer are you at risk?

Ovarian cancer is the cancer of the ovaries, it ranks fifth in cancer deaths among women and accounts for more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system.

The lifetime risk of getting and dying from ovarian cancer is about 1 in 70 and 1 in 100 respectively. As with many cancers, there are measures that can either reduce or increase one’s risk of developing ovarian cancer.

Most ovarian cancers are seen in women who have attained menopause and the risk increases with increasing age. Factors that increase ovarian exposure to estrogen like early onset of menstruation, later or no childbirth, late menopause, some fertility treatments and hormonal replacement therapy have been found to increase risk of ovarian cancer and those that decrease ovarian exposure to estrogen like birth control pills, pregnancies and breastfeeding provide some protection from ovarian cancer.

While ovarian cancer cannot be completely prevented and most cases occur without symptoms except in the later stages, hence, the key to survival is early detection. Regular pelvic exams have been found to be helpful with early detection, however there are no specific recommended tests to screen for ovarian cancer.

Nonetheless, if you have a past history of any cancer especially a reproductive cancer (breast, uterus, or cervical) or have a family history of any reproductive cancer, you may benefit from genetic screening, routine 22 ultrasound scan (TVUS) and blood test (CA-125) and a review with a gynecologic oncologist to discuss further surgical preventive measures. So, protect yourself by knowing your family cancer history and your own medical history as well.

In addition to regular exams, certain lifestyle modifications have been found to reduce the risk of developing ovarian cancer. It is important to maintain a healthy weight and avoid weight gain and increase the intensity and amount of physical activity which involve moderate exercises or sport activities. Red and processed meat have been found to directly increase the risk of developing cancers in general and limiting consumption of which may lower your risk. Eat foods that are rich in fiber like certain fruits, whole grains and vegetables; and avoid excessive consumption of alcohol and quit smoking.

Doctor Esther talks about Ovarian Cancer

Dr Esther Dairo

General Practitioner

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