Ovarian Cancer in Young Women

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Feb 18, 2012

Ovarian cancer In young women

Ovarian cancer is uncommon in women under 40 years of age, but it can and does occur in younger women. Young women, who have a family history of ovarian cancer, are at maximum risk of developing it. In them, this cancer is related to hereditary factors and BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.

Ovarian cancer is a broad array of diseases comprising more than 30 known subtypes. The three major categories of ovarian cancer occurring in younger women are germ cell tumour, epithelial cell tumour and sex-cord stromal tumour.


  • Germ Cell Tumours - These tumours arise from the cells in the ovary that are meant to become eggs. These tumours include those in yolk sac, embryos and endodermal sinus tumours.
  • Epithelial Tumours - It is the most common type of ovarian cancer, accounting for about 85% to 90% of cases. The tumour develops in the thin layer of tissues that covers the ovaries, called the epithelium. There are two main sub-types of epithelial tumours- tumours of low malignant potential (LMP tumours) and Epithelial ovarian cancers.
  • Sex-cord Stromal Tumour - These tumours develop in the tissues which produce the hormones oestrogen and progesterone. These hormones are essential to hold the ovary together. They represent about 6% of all ovarian cancers and mainly occur in young women.

There are various symptoms of ovarian cancer in young women. The early symptoms of this cancer are frequent urination, appetite loss, feeling full in the stomach, pain in pelvic region, and bloating. The other much lesser known symptoms are nausea, change in bowel movements, indigestion, leg pain, vaginal bleeding and pain during intercourse, abdomen swelling, gas and discomfort.

Ovarian cancer is more common in young women of Jewish, Polish, Icelandic and Pakistani descent. This cancer in young women is associated with fewer pregnancies, high fat diet (junk food) and infertility. Young women who have ovarian cancer in its early stage can be treated by surgery which involves complete removal of the uterus and ovaries through, known as hysterectomy. This results in loss of fertility and also subjects these women to the long-term consequence of oestrogen deprivation.

Ovarian cancer is rare in young women but some of them do get diagnosed with it. Early detection of the cancer symptoms is essential to fight against the disease. If detected early enough, it is completely curable.


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