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Doctors speak on the causes of ovarian cancer

Ovarian cancer accounts for about 3 percent of cancer among women, but it causes more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system.

ENCOMIUM Weekly, on Thursday, August 25, 2016, had a chat with doctors and they spoke about the causes of ovarian cancer, how it can be avoided and be cured…


‘Ovarian cancer is not detected until it is too late’  -DR. AYOOLA

What causes ovarian cancer?

The causes are plenty but we don’t call it causes per say, what we call it is respondent factors, and it means things that happen that makes it more likely for you to have it. First, ovarian cancer most times happens in rare situations. So, if it happens to people less than 35 years old, most times it is familiar or hereditary. The chances of having it increase with age.

There are different types of ovarian cancer, which are, the hereditary ovarian cancer, which happen when the person is less than 25 years. They are usually germ cells tumour. Germ cells tumours happen to do with sex cells and the ones that happen above age 35 are usually epitaxial. The problem of epitaxial tumours are that most of them are not quickly discovered until they are widespread and less than 25 percent of women with ovarian cancer are alive after 5 years while less than 3 percent as seen in women that are less than 35 years. Most of them are usually associated with nulliparity which means when the woman does not have any children at all.

Let’s now talk about symptoms. Usually when some women are just infertile for no reason, it’s usually associated with ovarian cancer and sometimes cancer of the endometrium. There is a link with ovarian cancer and previous attempt to induce ovulation that means people that are infertile and are having fertility treatment. Family history is s symptom too because less than 10 percent of women with ovarian cancer are usually the ones with the family history. A woman with a close relative who is suffering from ovarian cancer has like 2.5 percent chance of having it. Also, a woman with two close affected relatives has 30 percent chance of having it because there are these genetic markers (BRCE-1 and BRCE-2) we usually use to know people that are predisposed to having it.

For instance, you remember this famous actress, Angelina Jolie. She had double mastectomy because there was this history of breast cancer but what is usually advised is to have annual ovarian ultrasound and also check their serum for CEI125. Sometimes we tell people with the family issue to remove their ovaries. Ovarian cancer is not detected until it is too late. They are aggressive and usually cause abdominal pain or discomfort. People with ovarian cancer have abdominal dysfunction, indigestion, weight loss. Women that have gotten to menopause will start bleeding again.

How can ovarian cancer be avoided?

If you know your family history and there is anyone that has it, there is a chance of you having it. It’s advisable to go for ovarian ultrasound every 6-12 months.

How can ovarian cancer be cured?

It is difficult if it is not discovered early. That is why I said most people don’t survive it and less than 25 percent of people living with ovarian cancer are still alive after 5 years.

So, if it is caught early before it comes out of the ovaries, then the person can have surgery. The chance of survival is very small because the person living with the cancer will not know till it has spread to the liver and the rest of the body. The chance of survival is slim, really.


‘Ovarian cancer is usually genetic’


What causes ovarian cancer?

Just like any other kind of cancer, ovarian cancer is usually genetic, but you can define the particular cause. For some people, most times it starts from genetics but nobody knows the particular cause of ovarian cancer. The chance of having it is high, if someone has a close relative that has it.

There are some oestrated factor that some do that increases the chance of having it and those things include, use of oral contraceptives. There are also lots of associated factors that increase the chance of having it, but the cause is not known yet.

How can ovarian cancer be avoided?

Women and ladies should go for regular medical checkup annually. If it is detected, it should be taken care of. Most times it is hardly detected until it has spread to other parts of the body, especially when you have a relative that has it then you must be doing medical checkup concurrently so that if there is any sign of it, it can be taken care of.

How can ovarian cancer be cured?

It is not curable but what we do is that there are three modalities for management. We have surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Depending on the stage of the cancer, one can do one or all of the states of the treatment.

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