Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer is the fourth commonest cancer in women with an aged-standardised incidence rate (ASR) of 5.9 per 100,000 population. Know more about the symptoms and risk factors of ovarian cancer – time to take action.

What Do I Need To Know?

Ovarian cancer begins in the ovaries, located at each side of the uterus. Ovarian cancer is common in women above 40 years old and peaks at 55 to 60 years of age, with 50% diagnosed at advanced stages.

Ovarian cancer is the fourth commonest cancer in women and is particularly challenging as most cases are at advanced stages, due to the absence of symptoms in the early stages. Ovarian cancer’s age standardises incidence rate (ASR) is 5.9 per 100,000 population.

There are several types of ovarian cancer which are:

  • Epithelial Tumours – Over 90% of ovarian cancers are epithelial tumours, which begin in the thin layer of tissue that covers the outside of the ovaries.
  • Stromal Tumours – 7% of ovarian tumours are stromal, which begin in the ovarian tissue that contains hormone-producing cells.
  • Germ Cell Tumours – This type of ovarian tumour tends to occur in younger women, which begin in the egg-producing cells.
What Are The Risk Factors?

Factors that may increase your risk of ovarian cancer are:

  • Age – Ovarian cancer can occur at any age. Commonly, women aged 50 to 60 years old are at an increased risk of ovarian cancer.
  • Inherited gene mutations – Gene mutation contributes to a small percentage of ovarian cancer cases. Genes known to increase your risk of ovarian cancer are breast cancer gene 1 (BRCA1) and breast cancer gene 2 (BRCA2).
  • Family history – If you have two or more close relatives with ovarian cancer, you are at an increased risk of the disease.
  • Age when menstruation starts and ends – You are at an increased risk of ovarian cancer if menstruation begins at an early age or menopause starts at a later age.
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What Are The Symptoms?

Early-stage ovarian cancers rarely cause symptoms; however, symptoms may surface at the later stages. Most often, these few and nonspecific symptoms are mistaken for benign conditions.

Symptoms may include:

  • Abdominal bloating or swelling
  • Quickly feeling full when eating
  • Weight loss
  • Discomfort in the pelvis area
  • Changes in bowel habits, such as constipation
  • A frequent need to urinate
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How Do I Screen For Ovarian Cancer?

If you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, consult a doctor to determine what these factors may mean to your own risk of cancer. Undergoing genetic testing may be an option to help understand more of your chances.

Other types of diagnosis for ovarian cancer may include:

  • Imaging tests – Ultrasound and CT scans of your abdomen and pelvis may help determine the size, shape, and structure of your ovaries
  • Blood tests – Blood tests, which may include organ function tests, may give the expert clues of your diagnosis or prognosis.

When the diagnosis of ovarian cancer is confirmed, your information is processed to assign your cancer stage.

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Ovarian Cancer – PORTAL MyHEALTH. (2017, March 7). Retrieved from MyHEALTH:

Pietrangelo, A. (2020, September 8). Ovarian Cancer: Early Signs, Detection and Treatment. Retrieved from Healthline:

Dr. Chee Meng, Y. (2018, August 15). The Latest Treatment for Advanced Ovarian Cancer. Retrieved from The Star:

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