Ovarian Cancer in Younger Women – An overview


Team Udayavani, May 10, 2024, 5:48 PM IST

Representative image (source: iStock)

Ovarian cancer is generally considered a disease that predominantly affects older women, with the majority of cases diagnosed in women over 50 years of age. But, ovarian cancer can still occur in women of reproductive age and even in adolescents, although less frequently.

Risk Factors for Ovarian Cancer in Young Women:

The incidence of ovarian cancer in younger women is relatively low compared to older age groups. However, several factors can increase your risk of developing ovarian cancer at a younger age such as genetic predisposition (e.g., mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes), family history of ovarian or breast cancer, endometriosis, and certain lifestyle factors.

In addition, women with certain genetic syndromes, like Lynch syndrome or Li-Fraumeni syndrome, are also at a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer, even at a younger age.

Diagnosis Challenges:

Diagnosing ovarian cancer in younger women can bring many challenges. It may be due to the lower index of suspicion in this age group and the fact that symptoms of ovarian cancer can be vague and easily attributed to other conditions. Delayed diagnosis can further impact treatment outcomes and overall prognosis.

Early Detection Plays a Huge Role in Ovarian Cancer Treatment Outcomes.

Thus, healthcare providers should consider all possibilities of ovarian cancer in younger women who present with persistent symptoms such as abdominal bloating, pelvic pain, and changes in bowel habits.

Early detection through regular pelvic examinations, imaging studies, and tumour markers can improve the chances of successful treatment and better outcomes in younger women diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

In conclusion, please remember that although ovarian cancer is more commonly diagnosed in older women, younger women can still develop the disease. Consider all the risk factors that can increase the risk of developing ovarian cancer at a younger age and reach out to a specialist immediately when any symptoms show up. Early detection is crucial for better treatment outcomes in younger women diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

(This article is authored by Dr. Hira Mardi, Consultant – Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Manipal Hospital Varthur Road.)

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