Shillong, September 25: Experts have suggested that genetics may hold the key to identifying the risk of ovarian cancer, a challenging-to-diagnose disease that poses a significant threat to women’s health.
September is recognized as Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, drawing attention to the fact that it is the third most common cancer in women worldwide, with nearly 20,000 new diagnoses each year and approximately 12,000 annual fatalities due to the disease.
IANS reported that ovarian cancer is particularly insidious because its symptoms are often subtle and easily confused with other common conditions. By the time it is diagnosed, the cancer has often reached an advanced stage.
Dr. Nishith Modi, Consultant in Surgical Oncology at HCG Cancer Centre, Vadodara, Gujarat, explained, “Ovarian cancer is a slow-growing cancer, so it can grow and spread without causing any symptoms until it is in an advanced stage.”
Dr. Rubina Shanawaz Z, Consultant in Uro-Gynaecology, Gynae-Oncology & Robotic Surgery at Fortis Hospital, Cunningham Road, Karnataka, added, “It is a very challenging cancer to diagnose compared to other types of cancer as the symptoms are very non-specific and can easily be attributed to any other common lifestyle disorder such as indigestion and bloating.”
Common symptoms of ovarian cancer include abdominal bloating or swelling, early satiety after eating, difficulty eating, pelvic pain, abdominal pain or cramping, frequent or urgent urination, fatigue, back pain, constipation, and changes in menstrual patterns.
Dr. Rashmi Dharaskar from Surya Mother and Child Super Speciality Hospital Pune emphasized the role of genetics in assessing the risk of ovarian cancer. Approximately 23 percent of ovarian cancers are attributed to hereditary factors. Genetic markers like BRCA1 and BRCA2 can signal a higher risk, enabling closer monitoring and personalized treatment plans. Genetic insights can also aid in the prevention of drug resistance and the development of targeted therapies.
Understanding these genetic markers empowers doctors to create individualized strategies for early detection and treatment. In the realm of genetics and ovarian cancer, there is hope for early identification, tailored treatment plans, and potentially reducing the impact of this disease through genetic knowledge.
Additionally, risk factors for ovarian cancer include a family history of reproductive, breast, or colorectal cancers, obesity, nulliparity (not having been pregnant), and a history of hormone use for fertility treatment or postmenopausal replacement therapy, according to Dr. Rubina.