Approximately 1,800,000 people are diagnosed with cancer every year in the United States. Of those people, about 21,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year. It is often referred to as the silent killer because ovarian cancer causes many symptoms that women deal with on a regular basis anyway. Then, by the time the cancer is found, nothing can be done to treat it.
While most women who get this cancer get it after menopause, it can happen to women of any age. Knowing the signs and risk factors can potentially help save your life.
Risk Factors for Ovarian Cancer
Risk factors are things that increase your chance of getting something like cancer, and each kind of cancer has its own risk factors. While some factors can be changed, like smoking or obesity, others, like family history, cannot.
One of the biggest risk factors of ovarian cancer is age. Almost half of all ovarian cancer cases are found in women over 60 years old. Because you can’t change your age, you want to do your best to reduce other risk factors that you might have.
Your family history is another significant risk factor. While ovarian cancer does run in families if a family has a history of other cancers such as breast or colorectal, then you could be at a higher risk of having ovarian cancer. Additionally, the more people in your family with ovarian cancer, the higher your risks of developing it are.
Women who have had children have been shown to have a significantly lower risk of having ovarian cancer in their life. Additionally, the more children they’ve had, the better protected they are. Doctors believe that infertility factors that make it hard for some women to have children also contribute to the cancer.
Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer
Ovarian cancer can be extremely hard to diagnose because many doctors believe that women are merely experiencing menopause symptoms or PMS. Additionally, many of the factors could also be factors for other things. Because of this, it’s helpful to know all the symptoms and look at them as a whole instead of one by one.
If you’ve missed your period, you might automatically think you’re pregnant. However, if it has happened multiple times where you’ve gotten pregnancy testing done that came back negative, you should talk to your doctor.
Bloating and Swelling
If you notice that you have abnormal swelling in your abdomen, you could have cancer. The bloating comes from your lymphatic system being blocked and not being able to drain properly. This fluid will usually end up collecting in your abdomen, causing it to swell.
Change in Bathroom Habits
The fluid that can build up in your abdomen then pushes on your bladder, causing you to urinate more frequently than normal. This problem is often written off as bladder problems, so if you have other symptoms in conjunction with this. It’s important not to let it go.
Another issue that the built-up fluid could cause is constipation. If you find it hard to go to the bathroom, it could be that the pressure is blocking your natural processes, and your body can’t naturally release its waste.