Every 23 minutes, a woman in the United States is diagnosed with ovarian cancer. As September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, it’s very important to bring attention to this disease and educate women on ways to decrease the risk of ovarian cancer.
Most women who develop ovarian cancer are over the age of 63, but younger women have also developed tumors in their ovaries as well. Ovarian cancer is one of the most commonly misdiagnosed cancers and often, the early symptoms are ignored or mistaken for other conditions. Being aware of the early symptoms, especially if you are high risk of ovarian cancer due to family history, as well as consulting your doctor could help catch the disease early.
What is Ovarian Cancer?
Ovarian Cancer is a type of cancer where different types of malignant tumors develop in the ovaries. Oftentimes, ovarian cancer goes undetected until it has spread to the pelvis and abdomen from the ovaries. At this stage, ovarian cancer is usually harder to treat, contributing to the standing of the 5th largest cause of cancer-related deaths in women. But, when caught in the early stages where the cancer is confined to the ovary, it is treated more successfully.
Ways to Reduce the Prevent Ovarian Cancer:
Although there is no way to completely prevent ovarian cancer, there are some preemptive measures that can be taken in order to decrease the risk of development:
- Exercise & Diet: Maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly can reduce the risk of developing the disease. Obesity increases the chance of developing not only ovarian cancer but many other health conditions. By exercising and having a healthy diet, the risk of developing ovarian cancer decreases.
- Oral Contraceptives: Women who have used birth control pills for five years or more have a lower risk of developing the disease. Oral contraceptives are not for everyone, so talk to your doctor to see if this might be an option for you.
- Pregnancy & Breastfeeding: Women who are pregnant or who have given birth tend to have a lower rate of ovarian cancer than those who have never been pregnant or experience fertility problems. Also, some studies show that women who have breastfed for over a year have a reduced risk of developing the disease.
- Avoiding Smoking: Smoking can increase the risk of developing ovarian cancer. Avoiding second-hand smoke, cigarettes and other tobacco products may reduce your risk of ovarian tumors.
- Environment: Studies have linked ovarian cancer and talcum powder when used in the genital area. This includes baby powders and odor cleansers. By avoiding the use of these types of products that include talcum powder, the risk of developing ovarian cancer decreases.
- Surgery:Tubal ligation, having both ovaries removed, and hysterectomy procedures are all ways that have been linked to preventing the development of ovarian cancer.
- Screening: Getting screened for ovarian cancer, especially if you are high risk due to family history, can catch the tumors early and before they spread.
The key to catching ovarian cancer in its early stages is to get screened. You are the best advocate for your health! Don’t hesitate to reach out to your doctor if you have any questions.
Photo courtesy of Women’s Health