When it comes to preventing ovarian cancer, every woman should bear in mind that knowledge is her most potent weapon. Let’s face it: it’s a scary disease and the very thought of ovarian cancer usually generates a great deal of anxiety among women. Oftentimes, the illness is diagnosed when it progresses to a late stage, making it so much harder to treat. Furthermore, routine screenings are currently not recommended to asymptomatic women posing yet another challenge to detecting the illness or tackling it on time.
Sounds pretty unnerving, doesn’t it? Now let’s look on the bright side: Scary or discouraging as it is, there are specific steps you can take to prevent the onset of ovarian cancer or, at least, alleviate your risk and turn the odds in your favor.
Before we delve into preventive steps, let’s start off by defining the disease. Simply put, ovarian cancers are a group of diseases that affect the ovaries. Ovarian cancers can be benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Although abnormal, cells of benign tumors do not spread to other parts of the body (OCRA Research Alliance).
Some women may be surprised to learn that ovarian cancer does have symptoms, however, they may be extremely subtle and easily mistaken for other, more common and less severe problems. As stated above, most of the time, the signs of the disease emerge only when the cancer has advanced.
Below are a few symptoms associated with this illness:
- Difficulty eating
- Feeling full quickly
- Pelvic or/and abdominal pain
- Urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency).
Now let’s quickly turn our attention to less common symptoms such as back pain, fatigue, or indigestion that may be less useful in identifying ovarian cancer as they are frequently found among those who do not have cancer and may simply mimic other problems. What it means is that in addition to knowing the symptoms, it is crucial to be aware of all the risk factors for ovarian cancer including family history and genetic predisposition. If you start experiencing symptoms that are highly unusual for you, do NOT postpone a trip to a doctor’s office. Address the recently-emerged issues immediately which can potentially save your life.
According to VerywellHealth.com, there are several processes that work together to elevate or diminish the risk of ovarian cancer, and even minor changes can spell a difference between developing or avoiding cancer. Below are a few powerful strategies to embrace that may keep the “monster” at bay.
1. Maintain a healthy weight
Keeping an eye on your weight is always a good idea whether or not you are concerned about contracting ovarian cancer. Evidence suggests that overweight women bear a higher risk for developing cancer, according to PLOS Medicine. While for some women, shedding pounds may be equivalent to “waging an uphill battle”, dropping just 5 to 10 pounds (believe it or not) can make a difference and prevent them from getting sick.
2. If you have a baby, consider breastfeeding
Breastfeeding can alleviate the disease because it inhibits ovulation, which reduces your exposure to estrogen and abnormal cells. In fact, as recently suggested by JAMA Oncology, breastfeeding is associated with a 24% lower risk of invasive ovarian cancer.
3. Steer clear of talc in personal care products
While talc may not pose the greatest risk, as pointed out in the article published by Epidemiology, its presence in feminine sprays and powders is associated with the development of ovarian cancer. Why take chances when you can easily avoid them?
4. Your meds matter
From birth control to hormone replacement therapy, women should choose their medications carefully. While some meds can increase your risk of ovarian cancer, many others can help prevent it. Talk to your doctor to clarify or explore your choices.
5. For some, surgery may be a path to healthy future
As stated on VeryWellHealth.com, there are a few types of surgery known to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer. Those who are at a higher risk, may benefit from having their ovaries and fallopian tubes removed, which can be performed as a minimally invasive procedure. There are other treatments such as tubal litigation done as a form of birth control or hysterectomy (removal of the uterus).
A few final words…
Currently, there is no proven way to prevent ovarian cancer, however, there are several measures every woman should be aware of, that will enable her to take charge of her health, reduce her risk of developing the disease and live a fulfilling and productive life.
If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment with our highly-skilled OBGYN, please call (718) 849-8700 today to schedule an appointment. We are looking forward to seeing you soon!