Did you know ovarian cancer is one of the most common gynecological cancers seen in women across the world? It ranks 3rd just after cervical and uterine cancer . Ovarian cancer, as the name suggests, is the cancer of the ovaries, organs responsible for the storing and release of eggs in women.
Although anyone with ovaries can get ovarian cancer, women above the age of 50 years or those with a family history are at a higher risk. It is also known to be a silent killer because of its asymptomatic nature and slow growth of the tumor, delayed onset of symptoms, and lack of proper screening which causes late diagnosis and thus, high mortality rate. Here’s more about what you may need to know about ovarian cancer.
What Are The Symptoms Of Ovarian Cancer?
Ovarian cancer shows no symptoms during the early stage of the disease which makes it difficult to diagnose. Some of the symptoms that can indicate ovarian cancer include:
– A swollen/puffy tummy or feeling bloated
– Pain or soreness in your tummy or the area between the hips (pelvis)
– No appetite or feeling full quickly after eating
– An urgent need to pee or needing to pee more often
If you experience any of these symptoms on a frequent basis, it is wise to consult a doctor as these may indicate ovarian cancer. Additionally, you may experience symptoms that include:
– Constipation or diarrhea
– Back pain
– Feeling tired all the time
– Losing weight without trying
– Vaginal bleeding after the menopause
Are You At Risk Of Ovarian Cancer?
The risk of getting ovarian cancer increases with age. Anyone with ovaries can get this cancer which includes women, non-binary people, trans men, and intersex people with ovaries.
You are at a higher chance of getting ovarian cancer if you:
– Have faulty genes such as the BRCA genes or those linked to Lynch syndrome
– Had a clinical history of breast cancer or bowel cancer
– Had gone through with radiotherapy treatment previously for cancer
– Have endometriosis or diabetes
– Have had menarche at a young age or went through menopause late (over 55 years)
– Have not had a baby
– Have never used any hormonal contraception (either a pill or implant)
– Are taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
– Are overweight
How Is Ovarian Cancer Diagnosed?
A blood test and a scan are commonly the first tests done, but other tests are often needed to diagnose ovarian cancer. An ultrasound scan is recommended to check for changes in the ovaries. If the scan comes back normal, but the symptoms continue for a month or more, it is suggested to see a physician again. Sometimes, ovaries are too small to be visible on a scan, especially after menopause.
Other tests that may be done include:
– A CT scan (scanning of the ovaries)
– Biopsy (a tissue sample is sent to check for cancer cells)
– Laparoscopy (Checking ovaries using a camera through a small cut in the tummy)
– Laparotomy (Surgery to examine the abdominal organs and aid diagnosis of any problems unidentified by other tests)
What Are The Treatment Options For Ovarian Cancer?
Treatment for ovarian cancer depends on the size and type of cancer, location of cancer and if it has spread, and the overall health of the patient. The main treatment options include surgery and chemotherapy. However, in some cases, targeted medicines and hormone therapy are also advised. If the cancer is in the early stages (has not spread outside of your ovaries), a person may have surgery to remove:
– Both ovaries and the fallopian tubes (known as bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy)
– Your vagina (cervix) the opening to your womb and your womb (known as an abdominal hysterectomy)
– The affected part (if cancer has spread to other parts of your body)
Treatment for ovarian cancer in younger women can affect periods and fertility, which may mean one may not be able to have a baby. It might be very hard to treat if one has advanced ovarian cancer. It may not be viable to cure cancer. If this is the case, treatment will aim to limit cancer and its symptoms and help one live longer.
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored article powered by Lupin. The information provided in this article is in the form of text, tips, suggestions, and products, which comprises general advice for consumers. Tata 1mg does not endorse any brands and is not responsible for their efficacy.
1. Momenimovahed Z, Tiznobaik A, Taheri S, et al. Ovarian cancer in the world: epidemiology and risk factors. Int J Womens Health. 2019;11:287-299. Published 2019 Apr 30. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6500433/
2. Reid BM, Permuth JB, Sellers TA. Epidemiology of ovarian cancer: a review. Cancer Biol Med. 2017;14(1):9-32. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5365187/