Risk factors for ovarian cancer

Risk factors for ovarian cancer
Risk factors for ovarian cancer

Ovarian tumour is an abnormal growth in the ovaries; the ovaries produce eggs in women that are fertilized by sperm from men to form babies. Ovarian tumour is quite common but only a few become malignant. In 2012, about 240,000 women were affected worldwide by ovarian cancer with about 150,000 deaths; ovarian cancer is more common in North America and Europe than in Africa and Asia.

The overall survival rate is very low as diagnosis is usually late

1. Age
The average age of patients with ovarian tumour is 63 years, many actually occurring after 65 years of age; post-menopausal women.

2. Heredity/Family history
Heredity appears to play a large part in ovarian cancer; in women without a family history of ovarian cancer, the lifetime risk is 1.6 percent; a woman with one affected first degree relative has a lifetime risk of 5 percent; a woman with two affected first degree relatives has 7 percent lifetime risk. There is also another association with genes; women with a mutant gene called BRCA 1 have 45 percent lifetime risk of ovarian cancer whereas women with another abnormal gene called BRCA 2 have 25 percent lifetime risk.

3. Number of life time ovulations
The more the number of ovulations that result in pregnancy throughout life the less the risk for ovarian cancer that is more children, less risk; less number of children, more risk. The risk is also higher in women who never had children, those who started menstruation early and those who reached menopause at a later age. Breast feeding reduces the risk.

4. Endometriosis
Endometriosis is a condition in women in which the lining of the uterus grows in abnormal places like the abdomen, the intestinal wall, pelvic wall. Women with endometriosis have about 30 per-cent higher risk of developing ovarian cancer than women without.

5. Infertility treatment
Treatment for infertility with drugs increases the risk for ovarian cancer.

6. Breast cancer
Women who have developed breast cancer have higher risk for ovarian cancer than other women

7. Hormone replacement therapy
Those on hormone replacement therapy have a higher risk for ovarian cancer than other women. The risk disappears if the treatment is stopped.

8. Overweight/obesity
The risk for ovarian cancer is higher in overweight/obese women; this also applies to other types of cancer.

9. Lifestyle
Women who smoke have a higher risk for ovarian cancer than those who do not.

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