Developing ovarian cancer becomes more of a risk after menopause, even though this transition isn’t considered a cause of cancer. Symptoms for ovarian cancer can be difficult to discern from other conditions. Early symptoms can be regular bloating, abdominal pain or persistent pelvic pain as well as trouble with eating. There are several cases where it isn’t diagnosed until the cancer is in other organs as well. It’s important to get an early diagnosis to better treat the disease.
Symptoms of Very Early Stage Ovarian Cancer
Referring to a cancer’s stage is referring to how it spreads and grows. The earliest stages mean the cancer is still in the ovary and this is called stage one. It is common for women with early stage cancer to not have symptoms. If they do, some symptoms would be:
Symptoms If the Cancer Has Grown Outside the Ovary
When cancer has grown outside the ovary, it is called stage 2 or 3 ovarian cancer. The following symptoms may be from growing tumors in the pelvic region:
Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer After Menopause That Has Spread Further Away
This is called stage four cancer. Some symptoms can include:
When to See Your Doctor
Be sure to pay a visit to your physician if:
It is unlikely that your symptoms mean you have ovarian cancer, but you should get them checked by a doctor.
When cells multiply and divide in an unregulated way, it is referred to as cancer. When this is found in the ovary, it is ovarian cancer. The exact reason this happens is unclear. These risks can increase the chance of getting the symptoms of ovarian cancer after menopause.
Your Family History
Those who have relatives who’ve had breast or ovarian cancer are at a higher risk of getting ovarian cancer than other women. Genetic testing can be done to screen out genes associated with the risk.
Many cases of ovarian cancer happen after a woman goes through menopause. This can be especially true for those over 63 but is less common before 40.
Those who have had a pregnancy or more that went full-term are at a lower risk. This is especially true for those that were pregnant before 26 and your risk decreases the more pregnancies you have. Breastfeeding will also decrease your risk.
If you have used the pill for a minimum of three months, your risk may be reduced. The longer you’ve been on the pill, the lower the risk can be. Risk is decreased further if the birth control has been the Depo-shot and it’s been used for more than three years.
Fertility Treatment or Infertility
There are some fertility drugs associated with a higher risk of ovarian cancer. This is especially true in the case where women have had to use them for longer than a year without getting pregnant. It may also be that the higher risk in those that are infertile is due to lack of carrying a pregnancy.
If a woman has been diagnosed with breast cancer, she has an increased risk of getting diagnosed with ovarian cancer. This is why those who test positive for BRCA2 or the BRCA1 gene may decide on oophorectomy for preventative measures.
For women who have used HRT, risk of developing ovarian cancer increases. The longer you’re on it, the more your risk may increase. It also appears risk will return to normal once your treatment ceases. Danazol, or androgen therapy may up the risk as well.
Overweight or Obesity
There does seem to be an increased risk to many cancers with those who are overweight or obese. For women with a BMI of 30 or more, ovarian cancer is more common.
If you have had surgery on your reproductive organs, your risk of ovarian cancer may be reduced. Women who have tubal ligation may have a two-thirds risk reduction. A hysterectomy may reduce it by a third.
Those who have endometriosis can have about a 30 percent greater chance of getting ovarian cancer over other women; so do the symptoms of ovarian cancer after menopause.
The majority of women have at least one risk factor or two for ovarian cancer. These common factors generally only slightly increase your risk. Risk factors haven’t helped prevent most cancer cases as of now. There are some ways you can reduce your risk for epithelial ovarian cancer. There is little known about lowering the risk of stromal tumors or germ cell problems in the ovaries. The following discussion is of epithelial ovarian cancer, specifically.
Some strategies may only provide a minor reduction, while others are more helpful. Some may be easy to try, while others involve surgery. If you are worried about ovarian cancer, you should speak with your doctor, so they can help you develop a plan.
Taking birth control pills, or oral contraceptives can lower the risk of ovarian cancer, particularly for those who use them for several years. Those who used birth control pills for five or more years saw as much as a fifty percent decrease in risk of ovarian cancer compared to those who didn’t take the pill for so long. It’s important to think about the side effects and risk of birth control pills if you’re considering using them. It should be discussed with your doctor to see if it is right for you.
A hysterectomy or even tubal ligation can risk your chance of ovarian cancer. Generally, doctors agree these procedures should be reserved for medical reasons other than prevention of cancer.
If you are considering a hysterectomy because of medical reasons and have a family history for ovarian cancer, you may want to get both fallopian tubes and ovaries removed. This is called a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy.
There are some doctors who will recommend removing the ovaries with the uterus if a woman is over 40 and has gone through or is close to menopause. If you are in this stage, you should discuss this with your doctor.
It can be difficult to protect yourself from ovarian cancer after menopause. Here are a few things you can do: