Ovarian Cancer: Risk Factors & Common Symptoms

Ovarian Cancer: Risk Factors & Common Symptoms

“Cancer is not a concentration camp, but it shares the quality of annihilation: it negates the possibility of life outside and beyond itself; it subsumes all living.”

– Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer


Siddhartha Mukherjee refers to cancer as being the emperor of all maladies. Not without a reason. Ovarian cancer happens to be the most malignant form of gynaecological cancers, and the fifth leading cause of cancer-related deaths amongst women.


Three of the main determinants of ovarian cancer are age, family history and genetics. However, the disease does not restrict itself only within families sharing a past history. Women, especially post-menopause and those with a family history of breast and cervical cancer are advised to undertake screening tests for ovarian cancer. Another factor that plays a major role in ovarian cancer is the BRCA1/2 gene that accounts for 10% of all ovarian cancer cases. Over the past 30 years, Dr. Amish Dalal has successfully diagnosed patients with ovarian cancer.


The following pose as common risk factors:

  • A personal history of breast cancer before 45 years of age
  • Personal or family history of cancer in the fallopian tube, ovarian canvcer, or primary peritoneal cancer (a rare form of cancer closely related to epithelial ovarian cancer) among first or second degree relative(s), that is, sister, mother and/or grandmother
  • Family or personal history of the BRCA1/2gene that exists amongst approximately 10% of all ovarian cancer cases, which can be inherited
  • A history of breast cancer in a male relative (cancer occurring in the chest region amongst males is also termed as ‘breast cancer’). Studies show that a history ofbreast cancer in a first or second degree male relative (father, brother or uncle) increases the risk of cancer among the female members of the family as well
  • Personal or family history of hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer in a first or second degree relative. Hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer is a genetic condition that increases the risk of colon cancer, as well as cancers in other parts of the human body like the stomach, small intestine, ovaries, brain, urinary tract and the skin.

Disregarding, neglecting or not being able to recognize the symptoms of ovarian cancer can have significant consequences. However, patients who have a certain level of awareness and who undergo regular health check-ups have a higher chance of detecting the disease early enough to get cured. If the disease spreads to other organs in the body, it makes its management challenging. Dr. Amish V Dalal, a Surgical Oncologist, is highly acclaimed and sought after for his advice and treatment.


 Common Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer

The common symptoms of ovarian cancer may generally be misleading and can be mistaken as the side-effects of indigestion, associated with:

  • Bloating
  • Abdominal pain
  • Feeling full and/or
  • The urgency to urinate more often

If you or someone you know experiences any of these symptoms make sure to get them diagnosed by an expert like Amish Dalal.

Early Diagnosis and Prevention

Awareness about the symptoms of ovarian cancer and promptly diagnosing them can help in preventing the disease from spreading to other parts of the body. According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 20% of ovarian cancers are diagnosed at an early stage. The Society states that an early detection of the disease at a localised stage enhances the longevity of about 94% of patients by more than 5 years.

Two major diagnostic tests are usually prescribed for the detection of ovarian cancer – transvaginal ultrasound (TVUS) and CA-125 (Cancer Antigen-125) blood test. After understanding the patient’s history and evaluating the present medical condition, Dr. Dalal advises patients on the necessary tests to be conducted.

TVUS involves inserting an ultrasound wand inside the vagina to get a close view at the uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes. This painless screening test usually aids in detecting the tumour in the ovary and it can estimate whether the growth is cancerous or benign. A high level of CA-125 in the blood stream indicates the existence of ovarian cancer. A reduction in the CA-125 level in the blood shows that the medication is taking effect. When Amish Dalal reviews the symptoms of his patients, he decides on the necessary screening tests accordingly.

Patients diagnosed with cancer can book an appointment with Amish Dalal at Jaslok Hospital, Breach Candy Hospital, Bhatia General Hospital, Saifee Hospital or Parsee General Hospital.

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