Ovarian cancer is a type of cancer that develops in the ovary. The reproductive system of a female has two ovaries. The ovaries are located on both sides of the uterus. The size of each ovary is similar to the size of an almond. The ovaries produce eggs (ova), estrogen, and progesterone. People who have a family history, are old, have excess fat and have a reproductive history are more prone to develop ovarian cancer. Generally, people are not able to detect ovarian cancer until it reaches to the abdomen and pelvis. You should reach out to the best doctor as soon as you discover the symptoms of ovarian cancer. There is more than a 90% chance of surviving for a period of at least 5 additional years if you get it diagnosed in the early stage. It is hard to treat ovarian cancer at a later stage as it becomes fatal and life-threatening. The various treatment options that are available for the patients of ovarian cancer include radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and surgery.
People hardly experience symptoms in the early stage of ovarian cancer. Many people realize that they have ovarian cancer when it spreads within the abdomen and pelvis. People may experience nonspecific symptoms and a few symptoms in an advanced stage of ovarian cancer. Sometimes, these symptoms are mistaken by people for some other non-cancerous conditions. Check out some of the possible signs or symptoms of ovarian cancer:
- People with ovarian cancer may experience a discomfort in the area of the pelvis.
- People having ovarian cancer may suffer from a weight loss.
- People may feel that they have eaten a lot even when they have not.
- People may feel a need to pass out the urine frequently.
- People may experience changes in bowel habits including constipation.
- Bloating or swelling in the abdomen is also a sign of ovarian cancer.
- Nausea, loss of appetite, breathlessness, weight loss, and tiredness are some of the symptoms that people with ovarian cancer may experience as cancer progresses.
The exact cause of ovarian cancer is still not clear. As per doctors, there are various factors that increase the chances of developing ovarian cancer. These risk factors include:
- Age: If you are older then you are more to ovarian cancer than people who are younger. It is rare to have ovarian cancer before 40 years of age. Generally, ovarian cancer cases occur after menopause.
- Reproductive history: Breastfeeding and more pregnancies reduce the risk of developing ovarian cancer.
- Breast cancer: Women who have breast cancer are more prone to ovarian cancer.
- Overweight and obesity: Overweight and obesity increase the risk of developing several cancers including ovarian cancer. Women with a BMI of over 30 are more prone to ovarian cancer.
- Gynecologic surgery: Reproductive organs surgery reduces the risk of developing ovarian cancer.
You should reach out to the doctor as soon as you experience the signs of ovarian cancer for a diagnosis. Your doctor will conduct an examination of the pelvic organs to check if there is any abnormality in the ovaries or uterus. Your doctor will probably ask you about your family history and medical history. Check out the various diagnostic tests that are done to diagnose ovarian cancer:
- Blood tests: Organ function blood tests may be conducted in order to know about your overall health condition. Blood tests are conducted to check the elevated levels of a marker known as CA-125. These tests help your doctor to determine if you have cancer and also gives a hint about the prognosis and diagnosis.
- Imaging tests: Imaging tests include CT scans and an ultrasound of the pelvis and abdomen. These tests are done to find out the shape, structure and size of the ovaries.
- Laparoscopy: In laparoscopy, a small cut is made into the lower abdomen. A thin tube with an attached camera is inserted through this cut. This helps your doctor to see the ovaries. Your doctor may take a sample of a tissue if required.
- Colonoscopy: If the patient has the problem of bleeding from the rectum or constipation then the doctor may ask to get a colonoscopy done to examine the colon or large intestine.
- Abdominal fluid aspiration: The patient may have a swollen abdomen due to the accumulation of fluid. This can be examined by the doctor by using a needle to remove the fluid accumulated in the abdomen.
- Biopsy: A biopsy is the most usual way used to find out if a person has ovarian cancer. In this, a tumour or a part of a tumour is removed to check the presence of cancer cells.
There are many ways that may help you to reduce the risk of developing ovarian cancer. There are some risk factors that you cannot change including having a family history of ovarian cancer or getting older. But there are some risk factors that can be avoided to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer.
- Hysterectomy and tubal ligation may reduce the risk of developing ovarian cancer. But as per experts, these operations should only be done if the patient has valid medical reasons. It should not be done solely for reducing the risk of ovarian cancer.
- If a woman has a great risk of developing ovarian cancer and she is close to menopause or has already gone through menopause then the doctor may recommend her to remove the ovaries with the uterus.
- If your age is more than 40 years and you are planning to get a hysterectomy done then you should talk to your doctor in order to know about the benefits and side-effects of removing the ovaries.
- If a woman has an average risk of developing ovarian cancer and do not want to get the ovaries removed then the option that is available is getting fallopian tubes removed with the uterus. She may get her ovaries removed later.
- Pills that are taken for birth control have some side-effects and can lead to various complications. But as per various studies, it is true that using oral contraceptives or birth control pills can reduce the risk of developing ovarian cancer.
The treatment options for ovarian cancer include surgery, targeted therapy, and chemotherapy. Generally, more than one treatment option is used. The doctor decides the treatment options on the basis of the type of ovarian cancer, the stage of ovarian cancer, and the health condition of the patient.
- Surgery: Generally, doctors recommend surgery as the first option to remove cancer. The stage of cancer helps to decide the extent of the surgery.
- Salpingo-oophorectomy: In this surgery, fallopian tubes and ovaries are removed.
- Lymph node dissection: In this, lymph nodes are removed that are near the aorta or in the pelvis.
- Hysterectomy: In this, uterus and affected tissues that surround uterus are removed. If the surgeon removes the only uterus then it is known as a partial hysterectomy.
- Debulking or cytoreductive surgery: Debulking or cytoreductive surgery is a standard treatment option for people with ovarian cancer. It is used when cancer reaches beyond the pelvic area to reduce cancerous tissue as much as possible.
- Chemotherapy: In chemotherapy, certain medicines are used to destroy the cells which are cancerous. Cytotoxic medication is used to prevent the cells which are cancerous from growing or dividing. The main purpose of chemotherapy is to remove cancer cells that can not be removed with the surgery or did not remove from the surgery. Around 3 - 6 chemotherapy sessions are generally required. The sessions are given in the gap of 3 - 4 weeks in order to give the time to the body to recover. If it is found that cancer is growing back again then chemotherapy can be done again to shrink cancer.
- Targeted Chemotherapy: In this newer medications are used to target the specific pathways in cancer cells. Newer medications include olaparib (Lynparza) and bevacizumab (Avastin). Targeted chemotherapy is useful because it limits damage to cells which are normal. Common side-effects are reduced with the help of these drugs.
Check out various complications associated with ovarian cancer:
- Sometimes, the treatment for ovarian cancer goes wrong leading to various health-related problems. Though, it is rare.
- Due to chemotherapy, the immune system becomes weak. That is why patients become susceptible to infections.
- In some cases, chemotherapy can lead to an extreme reaction.
- There is a possibility that chemotherapy can affect the functioning of the kidney.
- Extensive abdominal surgery can lead to the development of a hernia.
Check out various myths or misconceptions about ovarian cancer:
Myth #1: Cosmetics or talcum powder can lead to ovarian cancer.
Many people believe that cosmetics or talcum powder can lead to ovarian cancer. It is a misconception so you need not give up on your favourite products. No research has proved yet that cosmetics or talc product causes ovarian cancer.
Myth #2: If there is someone in your family who has ovarian cancer then you will also have.
Having a family history of ovarian cancer increases the chances of developing ovarian cancer. It is not necessary that if you have a family history of ovarian cancer then you will also have it.
Myth #3: It is not possible to prevent ovarian cancer.
Doing regular physical exercises and having a healthy diet can help you to reduce the risk of developing many cancers including ovarian cancer. A dietician recommends that a person should have nutritious food including whole grains, fish, and vegetables in order to boost the immune system and get prevention from cancer. Obesity is a major risk factor for ovarian cancer. Such foods and exercises keep you fit and fine.
Ovarian cancer grows in the ovary. People generally do not experience the symptoms of ovarian cancer in the early stage. Bloating or swelling in the abdomen, weight loss, discomfort in the pelvic area, and bowel habits including constipation are some of the possible symptoms of ovarian cancer. Breast cancer, overweight and obesity, gynecologic surgery, reproductive history, and age are some of the risk factors that increase the chances of developing ovarian cancer. Surgery, targeted therapy, and chemotherapy are some of the treatment options available for the people with ovarian cancer. You should reach out to the best doctor as soon as you experience the symptoms of ovarian cancer. Your doctor conducts a pelvic examination or other tests to diagnose ovarian cancer. It is hard to treat ovarian cancer at a later stage. Early treatment increases your chances of surviving. In most cases, more than one treatment option is used. A weak immune system, hernia, and infections are some of the complications associated with ovarian cancer. People have a lot of myths or misconceptions about ovarian cancer. It is not possible to prevent ovarian cancer is one of the common myths.
If you are looking for the answers to various questions including:
- What is ovarian cancer?
- What are the signs or symptoms of ovarian cancer?
- What are the causes of ovarian cancer?
- How is ovarian cancer diagnosed?
- How is ovarian cancer prevented?
- How is ovarian cancer treated?
- What are various complications associated with ovarian cancer?
- What are the myths about ovarian cancer?
Then you are in the right place. Please refer to the above-mentioned information.
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