Ovarian cancer occurs in only 3 percent of women, but its high mortality rate is alarming. Ovarian cancer takes place in the ovaries. The ovaries are part of the female reproductive system. Women have two ovaries, one on either side of the uterus. They produce eggs as well as the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Because ovarian cancer does not always have specific symptoms, it is often discovered in its later stages and is frequently fatal. However, if women pay attention to their bodies, take note of irregularities, and have regular checks with the gynecologist, they will have a higher chance of catching and treating this cancer early.
Ovarian cancer begins when cells in the affected ovary begin to mutate irregularly, forming a tumor. These cancer cells can separate from the original tumor and spread to other parts of the body. There are three main types of ovarian cancer: epithelial tumors (they begin in the tissue surrounding the ovaries), stromal tumors (they begin in the ovarian tissue that produces hormones), and germ cell tumors (they begin in the egg-producing cells).
Symptoms from ovarian cancer may vary in type and severity. Early-stage ovarian cancer rarely causes symptoms, which is why it usually remains undetected until it spreads further. Advanced-stage ovarian cancer usually produces symptoms, but they are often mistaken for other illnesses or conditions.
Symptoms may include;
- abdominal bloating or swelling
- a feeling of fullness
- weight loss
- pelvic pain
- a frequent need to urinate
Many women attribute these symptoms to a digestive problem or a urinary tract infection. They are often unaware of the immediate need for treatment before it is too late.
Ovarian cancer can be diagnosed in a variety of ways, always beginning with a pelvic examination. The doctor will check for any abnormalities and then decide what the next step will be. Ultrasounds of the abdomen and pelvis can show the size of the ovaries. A blood test will reveal the presence of any cancer cells. Minimal surgery is sometimes required in order to remove tissue samples and confirm a diagnosis.
Once discovered, ovarian cancer treatment usually includes surgery and chemotherapy. If it is discovered at the early stage, the affected ovary and its fallopian tube will be removed. However, in most cases, both ovaries are removed, along with the fallopian tubes, uterus, and nearby lymph nodes. Chemotherapy is often used with women suffering from ovarian cancer in its advanced stages.
Unfortunately, there is no proven method to prevent ovarian cancer. However, there are certain factors that may possibly reduce the risk. Using oral contraceptives, especially for a longer period of time, has been associated with ovary health. Previous pregnancy and a history of breastfeeding may also lower a woman’s chances of developing ovarian cancer.
It is very important to make yearly appointments with your physician or a gynecologist in order to avoid advanced-stage ovarian cancer. Pay attention to your body, and if you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, do not hesitate to have them checked.