By Sandra Ray, Staff Writer
Deemed one of the most dangerous
gynecological cancers, ovarian cancer occurs in one in 58 women. The
American Cancer Society also reports that ovarian cancer is the
eighth most common cancer in women today and the fifth most deadly.
Symptoms of ovarian cancer are, for the most part, silent until it
has spread beyond the ovaries into other areas of the body. By
examining the risk factors, women can personally assess their own
possibility of developing ovarian cancer. Caregivers too can be
prepared to help discuss ovarian cancer risks with a womanís doctor
in the event that she underestimates the risks. Caregivers can
assist by being vigilant in reporting symptoms to a womanís doctor
that may otherwise go overlooked and could point to reasons for
Some women are at risk because
of their family history. A close relative, such as a mother or
sister who develops breast cancer or ovarian cancer increases the
chances that a woman could have ovarian cancer later in life. Even
family members from the fatherís side of the family can increase the
risk of ovarian cancer. A history of colorectal cancer on either
side of the family also increases the risk.
The breast cancer gene, BRCA1 or
BRCA2, can be passed from one family member to the next. If it
mutates, there is an extremely high risk of developing ovarian
cancer. Genetic testing or genetic counseling can examine whether or
not this mutation could have occurred. The American Cancer Society
reports that for women who have a mutated breast cancer genes, the
risk of developing ovarian cancer by age 70 increases by as much as
40 or 50 percent. By contrast, the risk to the average women without
this genetic mutation is approximately 2 percent. A similar mutation
in the gene for colorectal cancer can also increase the risk for
developing ovarian cancer.
Personal Risk Factors:
Several issues in a personís own
health profile can put them at risk for developing ovarian cancer at
some point in their life. For example, ovarian cancer is more
prevalent in white women than in African American or Hispanic women.
A Jewish woman also faces a slightly higher chance of being
diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
A personal history of breast
cancer will increase the risk of developing ovarian cancer later in
life. It may be possible that the inherited mutated breast cancer
genes discussed previously are the culprits. Mutated genes, like the
ones for breast cancer or colorectal cancer, are not always
inherited though. Sometimes these genes mutate on their own as a
woman ages. Researchers have yet to link these acquired mutations to
ovarian cancer, though.
Obesity further increases the
risk that a woman will develop ovarian cancer, sometimes as much as
50 percent. Obesity has been linked to a myriad of other health
concerns, so it should be little surprise that it plays a role in
certain types of cancer. Some studies suggest that a diet high in
fat can increase the probability of ovarian cancer. Working with a
physician on a well-managed weight loss plan can reduce the risk of
these health issues.