The American Cancer Society estimates that over 21,000 women in the US will receive a new diagnosis of ovarian cancer in 2020, and almost 14,000 women will die from it. In 2017, there were over 233,000 people living with the disease. Unfortunately, ovarian cancer is hard to detect, and often is detected too late. It ranks fifth in cancer deaths in women, and the chances of getting it is about 1 in 78. About 48.6% of individuals who have ovarian cancer survive 5 years or more after being diagnosed with it.
There is good news though. Rates of new ovarian cancer cases have been falling at a rate of about 2.5% every year for the last ten years. Death rates have also been falling, at an average of 2.2%. What is causing the decrease in cancer rates?
A study published in September 2019 by researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus has linked that the Intrauterine Device (IUD) may be linked to a decrease in ovarian cancer risk. In this study, the team gathered information from 11 studies that reported data on IUD use and ovarian cancer incidents. When a patient had a history of IUD use, the risk of cancer decreased by a range of 15 to 32%. This included both the copper IUD and the IUDs with hormones. While this is extremely promising, it is important to note that this study looked at already published data, and thus were unable to identify how long women used the IUD. More research is needed to prove that this relationship is accurate, but the current data seems promising.
The research team explains that there may be a link between the hormones in the IUD and the decrease in cancer risk, or because of an increase in immune cells caused by the IUD’s inflammatory response. Immune cells play a key role in cancer prevention.
But, what is an IUD? An IUD is a small device put into the uterus to prevent pregnancy. There are two main types, copper and hormonal. The copper IUD uses a small wire of copper that blocks sperm from reaching the egg. The hormonal IUD prevents pregnancy is two ways, by thickening the cervical mucus which blocks sperm, and stopping ovulation. Studies have shown that there are other benefits to the IUD outside of contraception, such as treating endometriosis, heavy periods, and cramps.
If you are interested in getting an IUD, please make an appointment and we will be happy to discuss your options.
El Camino Women’s Medical Group offers the latest Minimally Invasive Solutions for gynecologic problems. Drs. Amy Teng, Erika Balassiano, and Pooja Gupta, all members of AAGL (American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopy) are highly trained and experienced in the field of Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery. Dr. Erika Balassiano has also completed a Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery Fellowship, under the supervision of world-renowned Dr. Camran Nezhat.
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