Ovarian cancer is the seventh most leading cancer among women, worldwide. It is a disease with no symptoms in the early stages and therefore the disease is diagnosed only at an advanced stage. It is one of the common diseases that is causing death among women.
Ovarian cancer is the growth of cancer in the ovary. The major part of the cancer arises from the outer lining of the ovary. Ovarian cancer affects women usually over the age of 50. The risk of developing ovarian cancer in a woman during her lifetime is 1 in 75.
TYPES OF OVARIAN CANCER
- Epithelial ovarian cancer is the cancer that begins on the surface layer covering the ovary. Out of 100 ovarian tumors, about 80-90 percent of the tumors are epithelial tumors.
- Borderline tumors are made up of epithelial cells that are abnormal and are not true cancers. They sometimes turn into cancer but the condition is rare.
- Germ cell ovarian cancer contributes 1 to 2 % of the total ovarian cancers. It starts from the egg cells of the ovary and these are non-cancerous form of germ cell tumor.
- Rare ovarian cancers include stromal tumors and sarcomas.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
The symptoms of ovarian cancer are:
- Persistent pain in the lower abdomen or pelvic region
- Persistent bloating
- Increase in size of the abdomen
- Difficulty having food
- Frequent urination
- Back pain
- Feeling full
At times, there may be a few other symptoms experienced by a woman and they are:
- Loss of appetite
- Change in bowel habits
- Unexplained weight loss
- Extreme fatigue
- Post-menopausal bleeding
These are a few symptoms of ovarian cancer, although these symptoms will be observed at a later stage and no symptoms are observed at the initial stages of ovarian cancer.
CAUSES AND RISK FACTORS
Ovarian cancer, like many other cancers is caused due to the abnormal division of cells. But, the exact cause of ovarian cancer is not yet known, though, certain things may increase the risk of developing ovarian cancer. A few are mentioned below.
- Age can be one of the causes of ovarian cancer. Women, usually above the age of 50 years are at a risk of developing ovarian cancer.
- A family history of ovarian cancer or breast cancer may increase the risk of developing ovarian cancer. This means that the inherited genes in a woman can increase the risk of ovarian cancer.
- Hormone replacement therapy alter can increase the risk.
- Obesity can also be a cause for the development of ovarian cancer in a woman and therefore it is necessary to stay fit and healthy.
The diagnosis of ovarian cancer begins with the vaginal examination. The doctor checks for abnormalities or changes in the vagina and the uterus. The doctor also checks the past medical history of the patient.
The doctor, after completing the diagnosis of the ovarian cancer, checks for the stage of the disease o provide further treatment to the patient. The stage of the cancer determines the spread of the disease and also helps the doctor decide an appropriate treatment for the condition.
The following are the tests to diagnose ovarian cancer.
Blood test is performed to check for the presence of a protein called CA125. It is a protein that circulates in the blood and therefore blood test is taken to check for the presence of the protein. This protein determines the presence of an inflammation near the pelvis but, the doctor cannot rely on this test completely and so many other tests are performed to diagnose ovarian cancer.
Ultrasound imaging uses sound waves to produce pictures of the organs and structures inside the body. It is a safe, painless and a noninvasive procedure and is used to examine various other parts such as brain, hips, uterus, to check for the health of the baby.
Laparoscopy is a surgery performed to check for the abnormal growths in the pelvic region. It is done with the help of a thin, lighted tube that is inserted into the belly or pelvis through an incision made on the skin. The tissue samples taken out are then sent to the lab as a biopsy sample to confirm the presence of cancer in the ovaries.
Colonoscopy is performed to examine the inside of the colon for the presence of any abnormal growth. It is usually done when the patient is suffering from constipation or when she experiences bleeding from the rectum. A sample of the biopsy can be sent to the lab for further details of the condition.
Abdominal fluid aspiration is performed when the patient suffers from swelling in the abdomen. A buildup of fluid in the lower abdomen may indicate the spread of ovarian cancer.
Imaging techniques include CT scan and MRI.
Surgery, such as hysterectomy and also the removal of lymph nodes are performed. The lymph nodes are removed with or without ovaries and fallopian tubes. Hysterectomy is performed based on the development of cancer.
Chemotherapy is a drug used to kill the cancer causing cells. It is either given orally or intravenously. It is usually used after a surgery to remove the presence of any left-over cancerous cells in the body. Chemotherapy can also be given to treat the cancers that spread to various other parts of the body.
Radiation therapy is usually given along with chemotherapy before the surgery. This therapy also kills the remains of any cancerous cells in the body.
Targeted therapy is the killing of cancer cells directly with the help of medication. Medicines like Avastin, Olaparib etc are used to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy and also to reduce the damage caused to the normal and healthy cells.
A few tips are mentioned below to prevent any kind of disease, enter your body.
- Follow a healthy diet that includes many fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Drink plenty of water to flush out toxins from your body.
- Keep yourself active by following regular physical exercises like jogging, walking, running etc.
Go for regular screening and be alert of the signs of ovarian cancer.