The ovaries are two small glands on either side of your uterus that store and release your eggs. When abnormal cells begin to grow uncontrollably here, it can be ovarian cancer. Cancer in the ovaries is most commonly a lump found while doing a pelvic exam. However, not all lumps are cancer. Here are three important things you may be wondering about ovarian cancer.
What are the chances of getting ovarian cancer?
The chances of developing ovarian cancer are small. They are higher if other women in your family have a history of ovarian or breast cancer or if you are past menopause. However, risk factors do not guarantee that you will get cancer. This is true for any form of cancer. Less than 2% of women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer in their lifetimes. Ovarian cancer is rare for women under 40. In fact, half of ovarian cancer cases are found in women over 60. Obesity can also be a risk factor.
Interestingly, pregnancy can also be a factor. According to the American Cancer Society,
“Women who have been pregnant and carried it to term before age 26 have a lower risk of ovarian cancer than women who have not. The risk goes down with each full-term pregnancy. Women who have their first full-term pregnancy after age 35 or who never carried a pregnancy to term have a higher risk of ovarian cancer. Breastfeeding may lower the risk even further.”
How do you get tested for ovarian cancer?
Ovarian cancer can be found during a physical exam that checks for an enlarged ovary, lumps in or around the ovaries, or signs of fluid in the abdomen. If these signs are present, your doctor will perform further testing, such as ultrasounds.
Is ovarian cancer preventable?
Birth control pills decrease the risk of developing ovarian cancer by about 50%, especially when taken for at least 5 years. Other preventative measures such as genetic testing or gynecological surgeries are options for those with a higher risk.
Are there treatment options?
Treatment options include
- Hormone therapy
- Targeted therapy
- Radiation therapy
After diagnosis, you and your physician will work together to design a treatment plan. It may include more than one of the options mentioned above. Many factors go into selecting what treatment will work for you.
Information for this post obtained from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/ovarian-cancer.html