Select Page

There are several types of epithelial ovarian cancer. They are currently all treated in a similar way.

They include:

  • serous – the most common type
  • mucinous
  • endometrioid
  • clear cell
  • undifferentiated or unclassifiable.

There are also non-epithelial cancers that can affect the ovaries. This section does not cover treatment for these. We have separate information on non-epithelial ovarian cancers, such as germ cell tumors (ovarian teratomas) and sarcomas.

The causes of ovarian cancer are not yet completely understood. The risk of developing ovarian cancer is very low in young women and increases as women get older. More than 8 out of 10 (80% of) ovarian cancers occur in women over the age of 50. On this page we’ve listed some factors that are known to affect a woman’s chance of developing ovarian cancer. Some increase the risk and some decrease it.

Hormonal factors

Hormonal factors that increase the risk of developing ovarian cancer Hormonal factors that decrease the risk of developing ovarian cancer
• Starting periods at a young age • Taking the contraceptive pill
• Having a later menopause • Having children (the risk decreases with each additional pregnancy)
• Taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) (the risk decreases after stopping taking it) • Breastfeeding

Hormonal factors that increase the risk of developing ovarian cancer

  • Starting periods at a young age
  • Having a later menopause
  • Taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) (the risk decreases after stopping taking it)

Hormonal factors that decrease the risk of developing ovarian cancer

  • Taking the contraceptive pill
  • Having children (the risk decreases with each additional pregnancy)
  • Breastfeeding

Physical factors

Height

Women who are taller than 5ft 7in are slightly more likely to get ovarian cancer than shorter women.

Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a condition where the lining of the womb grows outside the womb. Having endometriosis slightly increases the risk of developing ovarian cancer.

Ovarian cysts

Having ovarian cysts before the age of 30 increases your risk of developing ovarian cancer in future. But most women who have had ovarian cysts before the age of 30 won’t ever develop ovarian cancer.

Lifestyle factors

Smoking

Smoking cigarettes increases the risk of developing a type of ovarian cancer called mucinous cancer.

Weight

Some studies have found a link between being very overweight (obese) and an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer.

Diet

Eating a diet high in animal fats and low in fresh fruit and vegetables may increase the risk of developing ovarian cancer.

Family history

If your mother or sister has had ovarian cancer, this slightly increases your risk of developing it. But the risk is still low – about 1 in 20 (5%). We have more information available if you are worried about ovarian cancer and genetics. Women who have two or more close relatives who’ve had ovarian cancer or certain other types of cancer may be at a higher risk.

Inherited risk

A small number of ovarian cancers, about 1 in 10 (10%), are thought to be due to an inherited altered gene (genetic mutation). If a family has an altered gene, usually several relatives on the same side of the family are diagnosed with ovarian cancer or related cancers, such as breast, bowel or womb cancer. People in the family may also be diagnosed with cancers at a particularly young age. Doctors are most interested in the history of cancer in your close relatives (first-degree relatives and second-degree relatives). First-degree relatives are your parents, brothers, sisters and children. Second-degree relatives are your grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews.
If any of the following are present on one side of your family (either your father’s or your mother’s side), it’s possible that there may be an inherited faulty gene that increases your risk of developing ovarian cancer:

  • Ovarian cancer in at least two close relatives, where at least one is a first-degree relative.
  • Ovarian cancer in a first-degree relative and a first- or second-degree relative diagnosed with breast cancer under the age of 50 (or both cancers in the same person).
  • Ovarian cancer in a first-degree relative and two relatives (who are first-degree relatives of each other) diagnosed with breast cancer before they reached an average age of 60.
  • Ovarian cancer in one close relative and colon (bowel) and/or womb (endometrial) cancers in three relatives.

We have more information available about cancer genetics.

The symptoms of ovarian cancer can be similar to symptoms caused by other, more common, conditions.
These conditions may include:

  • feeling bloated (having a swollen tummy)
  • feeling full quickly and/or loss of appetite
  • pain or discomfort in the lower tummy area and/or back
  • needing to pass urine more often or more urgently (feeling like you can’t hold on)
  • changes in bowel habits (diarrhea or constipation)
  • pain during sex
  • weight gain or weight loss
  • unexplained or extreme tiredness

Because the symptoms of ovarian cancer can be mistaken for symptoms of other non-cancerous conditions, there can be sometimes be a delay in diagnosis.

It is recommended that if a woman has the following symptoms and they last for a month or more, or occur on at least 12 days in a month, she should see her PCP to be checked for ovarian cancer:

  • Feeling bloated (having a swollen tummy).
  • Feeling full quickly and/or loss of appetite.
  • Pain or discomfort in the lower tummy area and/or back.
  • Needing to pass urine more often or more urgently (feeling like she can’t hold on).

If a woman over 50 develops symptoms similar to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), such as bloating and changes in bowel habit, she should be offered tests by her PCP to check for ovarian cancer. This is because it’s unusual for a woman of this age to develop IBS if she hasn’t had it before.

Most women with the symptoms listed here won’t have ovarian cancer, but it’s important to get them checked out.

Become a Patient

At The Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders, our board-certified physicians provide cancer treatment to more than 12,000 patients annually at our locations in Fort Worth – Central Campus, Fort Worth – Southwest, Arlington, Weatherford, Burleson, Granbury, Mineral Wells, and Stephenville. We offer you the latest advances in chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, hormonal therapy, and biological therapy. We also offer you the opportunity to take advantage of groundbreaking cancer treatment available only through clinical trials and cancer research.

CyberKnife

The CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery System is a non-invasive alternative to surgery for the treatment of both cancerous and non-cancerous tumors anywhere in the body, including the prostate, lung, brain, spine, liver, pancreas and kidney. The treatment – which...

SpaceOAR™ Hydrogel

The Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders now Offers Innovative SpaceOAR™ Hydrogel to Benefit Patients Undergoing Treatment for Prostate Cancer. SpaceOAR Hydrogel is Clinically Shown to Help Reduce Risk of Side Effects after Radiation Treatment. SpaceOAR™ Hydrogel –...

Hidden Scar Breast Cancer Surgery

Each year, approximately 253,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer that requires surgery. Many women are unaware of all the surgical options available, including less invasive approaches that can help restore their self-image and allow them to begin the emotional...

Nutritional Counseling

Good nutrition is essential for supporting you throughout your cancer treatment. Our registered and licensed dietitians can work with you to help lessen some of the side effects you may experience, which will not only help to ensure you are getting good nutrition, but...

Integrative Medicine

The Center TX also offers integrative medicine for our cancer patients under the direction of Dr. Oseni. Integrative medicine seeks to restore and maintain the health and wellness of cancer patients by understanding the patient’s unique set of circumstances and...

Complementary / Integrative

These services are for established patients. All support services are by appointment. Ancillary techniques and ancillary tests are those that assist in the diagnosis and/or treatment and are not necessarily a part of the original diagnosis...

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is a cancer-fighting methodology that uses either stand-alone drugs or a combination of drugs to relieve pain symptoms, control the growth of cancer cells and, ideally, eliminate cancer cells. Chemotherapy may be used alone or in conjunction with surgery...

Clinical Trials

The physicians and staff at The Center firmly believe that giving our patients the opportunity to access the latest innovative and cutting edge therapies on cancer clinical trials represents the highest level of care that we can offer our patients. Our practice is...

Diagnostic Imaging

The earlier a cancer is detected, the better the chances of treating it. Because diagnostic imaging produces pictures of what’s going on inside the body, it’s a vital tool that can not only detect certain cancers like breast or lung cancer, it can be utilized as the...

Pharmacy

The Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders offers an onsite medically integrated pharmacy. Our certified pharmacist is here to answer any questions and provide easy access to the medication you need.  The pharmacy is open during business hours and provides a quick...