Ovarian cancer includes cancers of the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the primary peritoneum, which is the tissue that lines the abdominal wall and covers the abdominal organs. These cancers often go undetected until they’ve reached advanced stages as there are often no early signs or symptoms making it difficult to screen for the disease.
Thousands of women are living with ovarian cancer in Canada. It is estimated that this year 3,100 Canadian women will be newly diagnosed with this disease (OCC, 2022). Ovarian cancer is the 5th most common cancer for women and is the most serious women’s cancer (OCC, 2022).
Types of Ovarian Cancer
- Epithelial ovarian cancer – The most common type (approximately 90%) of ovarian cancer which begins in the tissue covering the ovary, lining the fallopian tube, or the peritoneum;
- Germ cell ovarian cancer – About 5-10% of ovarian cancer cases which start in the egg or germ cells; • Stromal cell ovarian cancer – Accounts for less than 5% of all of ovarian cancer cases and begin in the cells that hold the ovaries together (OCC, 2022).
- Age: Risk for ovarian cancer increases as a person ages as cells become damaged, making it more likely for cancer to develop;
- Genetic mutations: Inheriting certain genetic mutations, such as BRCA gene mutations, increases a person’s risk of ovarian and breast cancer;
- Ethnicity: Some genetic mutations are more common among certain ethnic groups. • Family history of certain cancers: Risk is higher if there is a family history of ovarian, breast, prostate, pancreatic, endometrial, or colorectal cancer on the mother’s or father’s side of the family; • Use of talc powder: Some research suggests that if talc particles travel through the vagina, uterus, and fallopian tubes it may contribute to cancer in the ovaries;
- Endometriosis: Risk for specific types of ovarian cancer may be higher if there is a history of endometriosis (OCC, 2022).
Most Common Symptoms (new and last longer than three weeks)
- Pelvic or abdominal pain;
- Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly;
- Urinary symptoms such as urgency or frequency (OCC, 2022).
“Knowledge is Power”
Until there is a reliable early detection test for ovarian cancer, transferring knowledge and empowering individuals must be a priority (OCC, 2022). Ovarian Cancer: Knowledge is Power is a program designed to help educate about the facts, risks and signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer offered through Ovarian Cancer Canada (2022). The program is a free presentation delivered by a staff member or a trained volunteer via an online platform, such as ZOOM. You can find information on this program as well as many others on the website.
Ovarian Cancer Canada (OCC). (2022). About ovarian cancer. https://ovariancanada.org/About-Ovarian-Cancer