According to the American Cancer Society, around 22,400 women in the United States will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer this year. They also estimate that 14,080 of women will die. Ovarian cancer occurs mostly in older women. About half of those diagnosed will be age 63 or older. If you’re concerned about your mom’s chances of developing ovarian cancer, knowing the risks and symptoms may help her to receive care early and improve her chances of surviving the disease.
What is ovarian cancer?
Ovarian cancer is cancer that starts in a woman’s ovaries. When it is detected early, before it spreads to the abdomen and pelvis, stands a higher chance of being successfully treated. However, ovarian cancer often goes unnoticed in its early stages and symptoms may not appear until the cancer has spread. Although there is not currently a screening test specifically for ovarian cancer, scheduling an appointment for a pelvic exam for your mom may help doctors to detect the condition if it is present. If your mom is unable to drive, her senior care provider may be able to take her to the appointment.
What are the risks?
Unfortunately, the risks for ovarian cancer are largely beyond a woman’s control. However, there are a few that can be influenced through lifestyle changes, such as weight and smoking. Because so many of the risk factors are out of your mom’s control, you and your mom’s senior care provider may want to help her to reduce those risk factors that are controllable.
Some of the risk factors associated with ovarian cancer are:
- Age: Most ovarian cancers begin after a woman goes through menopause. Half of the cases are diagnosed in women who are 63 or older.
- Pregnancy and Childbirth: Women whose first full-term pregnancy occurred after the age of 35 or who never gave birth to a child are at a higher risk.
- Obesity: Having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher increases the risk.
- Estrogen Therapy: Women who used estrogen after menopause have a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer.
- Family History: Ovarian cancer may be hereditary. Women whose mother, sister, or daughter has had ovarian cancer are at a greater risk.
- Smoking: Women who smoke are at a higher risk.
What are the Symptoms?
There are typically no symptoms when ovarian cancer is in its early stages. The symptoms of later stage ovarian cancer are sometimes mistaken for symptoms of other, more common conditions like constipation. Symptoms of ovarian cancer include:
- Weight loss.
- Feeling full very quickly when eating.
- Bloating or swelling in the abdomen.
- Needing to urinate often.
- A feeling of discomfort in the pelvic area.
- Changes in bowel movements, like constipation.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering in-homecare senior care in Los Altos, CA, please contact the caring staff at Bay Area Home Care. Call today 650-938-4031.