Ovarian Cancer Basics Every Woman Should Know About
The ovaries are located one on each side of the uterus and are similar in size of an almond. The function of ovaries is to store eggs and produce female hormones. Ovarian cancer is an abnormal growth (a malignant tumour) of tissue in a woman’s ovaries. It is one of the fifth leading causes of cancer death in females. Older women who are over 60 years of age have a higher risk of falling prey to ovarian cancer (though it can occur at any age). If detected in the early stage, there are very high chances of it getting cured. Unfortunately, it’s hard to detect ovarian cancer in its early stage. Symptoms are more likely to be visible when it has spread beyond ovaries.
Ovarian Cancer Symptoms
- Feeling full quickly or trouble in eating
- Bloating in the stomach
- Heartburn or indigestion
- Abdominal or pelvic pain
- Pain during sex
- Loss of appetite
- Urinary symptoms including frequency and urgency
- Sudden gain or loss in weight
- While these indications may be due to other medical problems, if they remain persistent, it’s advisable to contact your healthcare advisor.Causes of Ovarian Cancer
There have been many investigations conducted by the cancer hospitals in India around ovarian cancer. However, the exact cause is still unknown. Researchers and scientists have not been able to find any chemical in the environment or diet related habit that can be directly linked to ovarian cancer. However, certain things can increase the odds of someone getting ovarian cancer.
- If someone has never been pregnant/unexplained infertility
- Early mensuration and late menopause
- Had been through colorectal, uterine and breast cancer
Types of Ovarian Cancer
Distinguished by the kind of cells in which cancer starts, there are three main types –
- Epithelial Ovarian Tumours –these are derived from the cells on the surface of the fallopian tube or ovary.
- Germ cell Ovarian Tumours –these are derived from the egg producing cells
- Cord-stromal Cell Ovarian Tumours – these are derived from the connective tissue within the ovary
Stages of Ovarian Cancer
Staging is described by the progression of the disease and how far and where a tumour has spread. It helps identify the treatment selection and how to take it further.
Stage 1 – The growth of a tumour is limited to the ovaries (one or both)
Stage 2 – In addition to the ovaries (one or both) a tumour has invaded to other areas including the uterus, fallopian tubes, colon or bladder.
Stage 3 –Tumour has spread into the abdomen or the lymph nodes as well.
Stage 4 –This stage occurs when a tumour spreads outside the abdominal cavity, such as the lungs or liver.
Making a treatment decision depends on the progression or the stage of the diseases. Using the results, the oncology department decides the best cancer treatment.
Diagnosis of Ovarian Cancer
Ovarian cancer can be diagnosed through several tests. These tests usually happen when your doctor while performing a pelvic exam identifies an enlarged ovary. In such a situation, you may need to get blood tests, pelvic ultrasound, laparoscopy, and Laparotomy done.