ovarian cancer

Rising Cases of Ovarian Cancer

Dr. Indoo Ambulkar
19 Nov 2018
 4.51 Vote(s)
Visits: 10725

Ovarian Cancer is expected to rise up to 55 percent in the next twenty years. It has the lowest survival rate of all female cancers. A womans risk of having ovarian cancer is about 1 in 78 in her lifetime. Let us read here more on the challenges, symptoms and the reasons for the rise in ovarian cancer.

Cancer starts when cells in the body begin to grow out in an uncontrollable manner. Ovarian cancer ranks fifth in cancer deaths among women, it accounts for more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system. A woman’s chance of dying from ovarian cancer is about 1 in 108. About half of the women under the age group of 60-63 years are diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year. Ovarian cancer is at rise among white women as compared to African-American women. Around 22,400 women in the U.S are reported to receive a diagnosis of ovarian cancer yearly and around 14,100 are estimated to die from this cancer every year. As per the reports projected by Indian Council of Medical Research, India may have to tackle 17 lacs new cases of Cancer within the next three years. Only 30 to 50 percent of women with breast cancer can survive for the next five years and this percentage is too slow to rise. The projected rise in the incidence of ovarian cancer is because we still lack the means to diagnose it early and treat it effectively. 

Causes for an increase in the cases of ovarian cancer

Factors that increase risk of ovarian cancers are as follows:

1. Getting older
The risk of developing ovarian cancer is higher among older women. Ovarian cancer is rare in women lesser than 40 years of age. Ovarian cancers are more prevalent after menopause and women who are under 63 years of age or older. 

2. Being overweight or obese
Being overweight is associated with the high risk of developing many types of cancers. Obese women with a body mass index of at least 30 may have a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer, but not necessarily the most aggressive types, such as high-grade serous cancers. Obesity can affect the overall chances of survival of a woman with ovarian cancer. 

3. Having children later or never having a full-term pregnancy
Women who have their first full-term pregnancy after the age of 35 years or who never had a full term pregnancy may have a higher risk of ovarian cancer.

4. Using fertility treatment
Fertility treatment with In Vitro Fertilization can increase the risk of ovarian tumors known as borderline or low malignant potential. Therefore, it is important to consult a doctor if you are dependent on fertility drugs.

5. Taking hormone therapy after menopause
Women who are under hormone therapy and consume hormones like estrogen after menopause also have an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer. Women taking estrogen alone for at least five to ten years have a higher risk of ovarian cancer as compared to women taking both estrogen and progesterone within the same time duration.

6. The family history of ovarian cancer or colorectal cancer

Genetic inheritance is another reason for the rise in ovarian cancer among women. If there is a family history of ovarian cancer before, there are greater chances of the other female member in the family to get ovarian cancer sooner or later. Around five to ten percent of ovarian cancers cases are that of inherited from family cancer syndromes, which are caused by an inherited mutation in certain genes thereby increasing the risk of ovarian cancer.

7. Breast cancer
Women who had breast cancer before or if there is a family history of breast cancer, there are more likely chances of the female family members to develop ovarian cancer in the future. 

8. Smoking and alcohol use
Smoking does not increase the overall risk of ovarian cancer, but it is linked to an increased risk for the mucinous type.

However, women who are dependent on combined contraceptive pills have the risk of ovarian cancer reduced by 50 percent and those who have taken it for many years have it reduced by 80 percent.


Initially, there may be few or no symptoms of ovarian cancer. Sometimes it is quite difficult to detect the early signs because the symptoms may resemble those of other conditions, such as premenstrual syndrome (PMS), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or a temporary bladder problem.

Early symptoms of ovarian cancer 

The early symptoms include:

  • Pelvic pain, pain in the lower abdomen or the lower part of the body
  • Frequent back pain
  • Indigestion or heartburn
  • Feeling of fullness while eating
  • Frequent urination
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Changes in bowel habits, such as constipation

As cancer progresses, one can also experience symptoms like:

  • Nausea, skin rash and muscle weakness
  • Excessive weight loss
  • Breathlessness and getting tired easily
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Menstrual irregularities

These symptoms may persist and become more severe with time. If cancer spreads outside of the ovaries, it becomes much harder to treat effectively.
If an individual experiences any of the above symptoms that last for more than a few weeks, they should see a doctor immediately.

Ovarian Cancer Survival

Clinicians from different parts of the world have reported the following challenges in the field of Ovarian Cancer Survival:

  • Lack of Awareness at the global level
  • Limited access to specialist treatment
  • Lack of family support 

Prevention of Ovarian Cancer

Given below are some of the steps to prevent ovarian cancer:

1. Breastfeeding your babies

Breastfeeding the baby can reduce the risk of ovarian cancer. Breastfeeding often inhibits ovulation, thereby reducing your exposure to estrogen and abnormal cells that cause cancer. It has been recommended by doctors that breastfeeding needs to be done full-time for at least six months to reap this potential benefit.

2. Contraceptive pills (Birth Control Pills)

Use of oral contraceptives (birth control pills) lowers the risk of ovarian cancer for average-risk women and BRCA mutation carriers, especially among women who use them for several years. 

According to recent research, it has been found that women who used oral contraceptives for more than five years have about a 50 percent lower risk of developing ovarian cancer compared to women who never used oral contraceptives. Still, birth control pills can have other complications and side effects, so it is important for women considering taking these drugs for any reason should first discuss the possible risks and benefits with their doctor.

Contraceptive pills (Birth Control Pills)

3. Avoid Excessive use of Talcum Powder

Talcum powder contains asbestos, a substance known to cause cancers in and around the lungs when inhaled. People who have long-term exposure to talc particles such as talc miners are at higher risk of lung cancer from breathing in asbestos particles. Women who apply talcum powder regularly in the genital area also have an increased risk of ovarian cancer if the powder particles were to travel through the vagina, uterus, and fallopian tubes and finally reaching to ovary. 

Avoid Excessive use of Talcum Powder

4. Balanced Diet

A cancer patient should see a registered dietitian for an individualized nutrition treatment plan if they are undergoing treatment such as surgery or chemotherapy. Patients require additional calories and nutrients for healing after a total abdominal hysterectomy. Patients with ovarian cancer may have different dietary needs and plenty of energy to keep it going strong, so the right meal plan is important. Try to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day and avoid processed starchy foods. These foods are not only full of vitamins and proteins but a great source of fiber too.


5. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Attaining a body mass index between 19 and 25 is a good idea whether or not you are concerned about ovarian cancer. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of ovarian cancer, especially those in premenopausal women. 

6. Tubal Ligation

Under this surgical procedure, fallopian tubes are tied to prevent pregnancy. Tubal ligation can reduce the risk of ovarian cancer up to 70 percent, depending on the age and the way it is performed. This is usually done as a form of birth control, especially to those who have a high risk of developing ovarian cancer.

Tubal Ligation

7. Hysterectomy 

Hysterectomy has been proven to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer. In this surgical procedure, a woman’s ovaries are removed especially for those women who are young and could have significant side effects related to the lack of estrogen produced by the ovaries. Many physicians, however, recommend removal of the fallopian tubes along with the uterus to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer.

Remember, though these are statistics based on average findings of a large number of women. Every woman is different. If a doctor feels that a screening strategy is important considering the risk, then it certainly may be of benefit in some specific cases.

The most important thing is to be your own advocate and make sure you thoroughly understand any early detection tests and follow your doctor’s advice.
Follow Elacancer to keep up to date with all the latest events and news with ovarian cancer. Book an Appointment; call us at +91-8929020600 for further assistance. 

Dr. Indoo Ambulkar

About the Author

Medical Oncologist
Dr. Indoo Ambulkar is a Medical Oncologist practicing at SevenHills Hospital in Andheri East, Mumbai. Dr. Indoo specializes in the treatment of Breast Cancer, Esophageal cancer, Lung cancer, Lymphomas, Co-rectal cancer, Brain Tumor, Colorectal Surgery, Lung Cancer, Head and Neck Surgeries. She has completed her MBBS from Tata Institute Of Medical Science in the year 2001. Further, she pursued DM in Oncology from Holy Spirit Hospital in the year 2003. Dr. Indoo Ambulkar has an experience of more than one and a half decades in the field of oncology treatments. Dr. Indoo is also a practices at SevenHills Hospital, a super specialty center at Andheri East, Mumbai. Seven Hills Hospital is serving patients in different fields of medicine since 1986. The hospital offers various facilities such as healthcare packages, inpatient services, diagnostic services, insurances as well as patients voice. Book a FREE appointment with Dr. Indoo Ambulkar at Elacancer.com.
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    1 Comment

    Kanvar Mahatma
    Nov. 19, 2018, 4:12 p.m.
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