Cancer is a group of diseases in the body which involves abnormal cell growth with the traits to expand to other parts of the body though not all tumors are cancers. Ovarian cancer begins is a specific type of cancer that begins in the ovaries which are the reproductive glands found only in women. Ovaries are made up of 3 main kinds of cells which can develop into different type of tumor/cancer.
The Epithelial tumors which accounts for most of the ovarian tumors starts from the cells that cover the outer layer of the ovary. Germ cell tumors start from the cells that produce the ova. The third is the Stromal tumors which start from structural tissue cells that hold the ovary together and produce female hormones.
Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cancers found in women around the world. Every year almost 22,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer and more than 14,000 of them will die from the disease, this is because routine pelvic exams are not likely to detect ovarian cancers when it is still treatable before it spreads beyond the ovaries. Though ovarian cancer may be uncommon, but it is still especially deadly.
As it is the case with any cancer any factor that increases your chances of contracting a cancer is considered a risk factor for it but interestingly with ovarian cancer some women with few risk factors may contract the disease, while other women with more risk factors may not be affected. The fact remains that ALL women, are at risk for developing ovarian cancer in one way or the other. The greatest hope of surviving ovarian cancer is if it is detected in its early stages.
Risk Factors for Ovarian Cancer
1. If you have a personal or family history of ovarian cancer, colorectal cancer or breast cancer: Up to 10% of ovarian cancers are caused of an inherited tendency to develop the disease. Mutations in BRCA1 or the BRCA2 genes can make a woman prone to develop breast or ovarian cancer. Colorectal cancer carries a genetic component that can increase risk for ovarian cancer.
2. Post-menopausal Risk factor: Most ovarian cancers develop after menopause, with the majority of cases of ovarian cancer being diagnosed in women of the age 65 and above. Though this does not rule out ovarian cancer from striking at any age.
3. Using fertility drugs or undesired infertility: Women who have never had a child or who have used fertility drugs at a point in time so as to get pregnant seem to have a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer than women who have not been exposed to this factors.
Symptoms of ovarian cancer
The fact that ovarian cancer is hardest to detect in its early stages makes it more dangerous as only about 19% of ovarian cancer cases are diagnosed before the cancer spreads outside of the ovaries and at this stage the cancer is usually less responsive to treatment.