Being a middle age woman brings the possibility of certain diseases. Interestingly, some of these diseases and their treatments can result in women entering menopause and/or experiencing menopausal symptoms. For instance, while ovarian cancer isn’t linked to menopause, removing a woman’s ovaries – which is used to treat or prevent ovarian, uterine and vaginal cancers -- will immediately put a woman into surgical menopause since this procedure removes the body’s source for estrogen and progesterone, according to Cancer.net, , a website providing oncologist-approved cancer information from the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Additionally, radiation therapy – also known as chemotherapy -- may lead to menopause. “Radiation therapy to the pelvis and chemotherapy that damages the ovaries can cause early menopause,” Cancer.net stated. “Menstrual periods may return for some younger women after treatment, but women older than age 40 are less likely to have their menstrual periods return.”
So let’s learn a little more about these different types of cancers, starting with ovarian cancer in this sharepost. This kind of cancer, which consists of a malignant tumor on a woman’s ovaries, is the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths among women. The Cleveland Clinic reported that the rate of ovarian cancer increases as women age; it tends to occur in women who are in their 50s. However, there is no association between ovarian cancer and menopause. Cancer.net reported that women who began menopause after the age of 55 had an increased risk of ovarian cancer, breast cancer and uterine cancer. Additionally, the risk increases if these women began having their periods before they were 12 years old. “A woman who menstruates longer than normal during her life is exposed to more estrogen and has more ovulations,” the Cancer.Net website reported. “Excess exposure to estrogen increases a woman’s risk of uterine and breast cancers, and having a greater number of ovulations increases a woman’s risk of ovarian cancer.”
Ovarian cancer, when found early, can be cured up over 90 percent of the time. However, ovarian cancer is difficult to detect in its earliest stages. The first sign is normally an enlarged ovary, but it often isn’t found until it’s more advanced. Furthermore, the symptoms of ovarian cancer can mimic those of common conditions such as digestive or bladder problems, according to the Mayo Clinic. These symptoms, which tend to worsen over time, can include:
- Abdominal pressure or bloating
- Pelvic pain
- Persistent indigestion, gas or nausea
- Changes in bowel habits
- Changes in bladder habits
- Changes in appetite
- Increased waist size
- A persistent lack of energy
- Lower back pain
To protect yourself from ovarian cancer, the Cleveland Clinic recommends that you should get a yearly pelvic exam. You also should report any irregular vaginal bleeding or abdominal pain to your doctor; also, talk to her about close family members (a mother, sisters or daughters) who have had ovarian cancer. Avoid using excessive talcum powder on or near the vagina. The Mayo Clinic also recommends that women should consider taking birth control pills. “Women who use oral contraceptives may have a reduced risk of ovarian cancer,” the clinic’s website reports. “But oral contraceptives do have risks, so discuss whether the benefits outweigh those risks based on your situation.
The Mayo Clinic stated that ovarian cancer also is detected through ultrasound, which uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of your internal organs, and surgery to remove samples of tissue for testing. Finally, a CA 125 blood test monitors the protein CA 125, which is often abnormally high in women with ovarian cancer. This test is not normally used for diagnosis since other causes may increase the CA 125, but can be used to monitor treatment for ovarian cancer.
Primary Sources for This Sharepost:
Cancer.net. (2011). Menopause and Cancer Risk and Treatment.
Cleveland Clinic. (2007). Menopause and Ovarian Cancer.
The Mayo Clinic. (2010). Ovarian Cancer
Published On: April 24, 2012