Curbing the Ovarian Cancer Epidemic: Guiding Factors and Strategies
Ovarian cancer is a deadly disease that affects millions of women worldwide. According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), about 295,000 women were diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2018, and approximately 184,000 died from the disease. Ovarian cancer is often referred to as the silent killer because symptoms are not noticeable until the disease has advanced. This cancer accounts for 3.9% of all cancer deaths in women and is the eighth most common cancer among women.
The most effective way to reduce the incidence of ovarian cancer is to use preventive strategies that lower the risk of developing the disease. In this article, we’ll discuss some guiding factors and strategies that can help in curbing the ovarian cancer epidemic.
Family history: Women with a family history of ovarian cancer, specifically a first-degree relative, are at a significantly higher risk of developing the disease. Women with inherited gene mutations such as BRCA1 and BRCA2 are also at a higher risk of ovarian cancer.
Age and reproductive history: Women who have never been pregnant or have a late menopause onset have a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer. Similarly, women who have had their first menstrual cycle at an early age or those who have undergone hormone replacement therapy (HRT) have higher risks of developing the disease.
Ethnicity: Women of European descent have a higher risk of ovarian cancer than women of African or Asian descent.
Environmental and lifestyle factors: Several factors such as exposure to asbestos, smoking, and obesity have been linked to an increased risk of ovarian cancer. Individuals who lead a sedentary lifestyle and have a diet high in fat and low in vegetables have a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer.
Screening: Early detection is key to lowering the mortality rate associated with ovarian cancer. Women who are at a higher risk of developing the disease should undergo regular screening starting at age 35. Common screening tests include transvaginal ultrasound and a blood test that measures the levels of the CA-125 protein.
Genetic counseling and testing: Women with a family history of ovarian cancer or with inherited gene mutations should undergo genetic counseling and testing to determine their risk of developing the disease.
Birth control pills: The use of oral contraceptives has been shown to decrease the risk of developing ovarian cancer. Women who use birth control pills for five years or more have a 50% lower risk of developing the disease.
Surgical preventative measures: Women who are at a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer have the option of undergoing a prophylactic oophorectomy, which involves the surgical removal of the ovaries. This procedure can reduce the risk of ovarian cancer by up to 90%.
Curbing the ovarian cancer epidemic requires a multifaceted approach that includes both preventive strategies and early detection. Women who are at a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer should undergo regular screening, undergo genetic counseling, and consider surgical preventative measures. Moreover, lifestyle modifications such as maintaining healthy weight, quitting smoking, and engaging in regular physical activity can also lower the risk of developing the disease. By working together and adopting these strategies, we can reduce the incidence of ovarian cancer and save the lives of millions of women worldwide.