Worldwide, ovarian cancer currently ranks 5th among all cancer-related deaths in women.
Unfortunately, most women are unaware of their condition until the cancer has spread due to
mild or non-specific symptoms. Additionally, ovarian cancer has become one of the most
commonly misdiagnosed cancers. It can often be mistaken for several other diseases or
conditions such as ovarian cysts or menstrual complications. Several studies have shown that in
the United States, only 15% of ovarian cancers are successfully diagnosed at Stage 1, when the
disease is the most treatable. As with every form of cancer, the survival rate drops immensely
with each successive stage.
Who Is At Risk?
There are several biological and lifestyle risk factors associated with ovarian cancer. The
following is a list of both, and if you fall under any of these categories, it would be beneficial to
contact your physician and/or gynecologist to help answer any questions you may have and to
schedule a blood test that may detect ovarian tumors in their earliest stages.
As women age, their chances of being diagnosed with cancer of any kind increases
substantially. In the case of ovarian cancer, approximately half of women who are diagnosed
with ovarian cancer are age 63 or older.
Certain behaviors, including cigarette smoking, a poor diet, and obesity have all been linked to
women that have this condition. There are several steps women can take to mend their lifestyle
factors, which will be touched upon later in this article.
If your mother, sister(s), aunt(s), or grandmother(s) have or have had cancerous ovarian tumors,
you are more likely to develop the cancer.
Changing Your Lifestyle to Decrease Your Risk
You cannot guarantee that you will not develop ovarian cancer during your lifetime. However,
with considerable effort and changes to your lifestyle, you can minimize your odds. The
following preventative measures that all women can take will play a role in stopping the
development of malignant ovarian tumors.
Women who have been pregnant during their lifetime have been shown to possess a lower rate
of ovarian cancer than those who are infertile or choose to never become pregnant. Women
with one child have about a 20 percent reduction in risk compared to women without children.
And the chance decreased a further eight percent for each subsequent child.
Those who use oral contraceptives for five or more years can reduce their risk of developing
ovarian cancer. Consult with your doctor and OBGYN before beginning the use of any birth
control supplement and note that this contraceptive must be taken for five consecutive years or
more to be effective in limiting the formation of ovarian tumors.
Women who maintain both a healthy diet and body weight long-term can reduce the risk of
developing the disease. Additionally, those who avoid cigarettes can not only limit their odds of
ovarian tumors, but many other cancers and diseases as well.
Avoiding the use of certain household products such as talcum powder near the genitals or
herbicides and pesticides outdoors could lower the risk of developing ovarian cancer. There
have been studies that have shown a correlation between long-term exposure to these items
and the development of ovarian tumors.
Early Warning Signs
Symptoms of ovarian cancer often begin as mild or non-specific. Common symptoms include,
but are not limited to:
● Pelvic or abdominal pain
● Feeling the need to urinate urgently or often
● Pain during sex
● Menstrual changes
Make an effort to visit your physician and OB/GYN annually for check-ups and examinations to
ensure your reproductive system is healthy. It is time to have the important conversations with
the women in your life. Let them know how important gynecological health is, and how serious
ovarian cancer has become in the United States, as well as across the world. Making small
adjustments to your current lifestyle could have a very positive effect on your short-term and