Ovarian cancer is named after the development of cancerous tissues/ cells in ovaries (an organ that is found in women and is an important part of the female reproductive system). Like any type of cancer, the thought of ovarian cancer is very frightful for every woman. If ovarian cancer is not detected in its initial stages, it can really become life threatening. In some cases, ovarian cancer can lead to removal of ovaries.
The symptoms of ovarian cancer can appear months before the cancer is found. Unless a woman is getting the tests that would reveal the cancer these symptoms many times wont be diagnosed. This alone is one of the problems with detecting ovarian cancer in its early stages. The symptoms of ovarian cancer are quite often dismissed due to the fact that they can be rather benign.
The best treatment of ovarian cancer needs a team approach between the primary care physician, gynecological oncology surgeon, medical oncologists and radiation oncologists. As more chemotherapeutic agents become available and as we further understand the biology of epithelial ovarian cancer, we hope to further improve the overall survival and quality of life of our patients.
symptoms of ovarian cancer:
Unusual changes in menstruation
Feeling of pain or intense pressure in the abdomen, pelvis area, back or legs
Overly frequent urination
Diarrhea or constipation
Ovarian cancer is the 5th most common cancer in women after lung, breast, colorectal and pancreatic cancers. It accounts for only three percent of cancer in women, and fortunately there has been a decline in incidence of this type of cancer by about 1% over the last twenty years. Unfortunately, diagnosis is usually late as there are very subtle and often protean symptoms and signs.
The final element of ovarian cancer awareness should involve giving a voice to the women that do have the disease. Too often in ovarian cancer awareness campaigns so much emphasis is placed on preventing the disease or even diagnosing the disease that the women who actually have the condition are forgotten.
Doctors have several methods for diagnosing ovarian cancer. In a physical exam, your doctor may press on your abdomen to feel for any signs of tumors or abnormal buildup of fluid. A doctor could also perform a pelvic exam. In this exam the doctor feels the ovaries and nearby organs for tumors or any misshapenness. Your doctor may also order a blood test.
Sometimes a patient can even get results within a few hours. However, it is recommended that a woman take a blood test before resulting to the extreme of an operation. This is because a simple blood test can show if there is a protein tumor marker in the blood. It is always best to have a blood test done before you undergo any major testing.
A sense of pelvic heaviness, vague lower abdominal discomfort, vaginal bleeding, weight gain or loss, unexplained fatigue, abnormal menstrual cycles, unexplained back pain that worsens over time, and non-specific gastrointestinal symptoms such as increased gas, indigestion, lack of appetite, bloating, nausea and vomiting.
The patient also undergoes chemotherapy, whereby the patient is given anti-cancer drugs to help hasten up ovarian cancer treatment. Drugs may be administered orally (through the mouth), intravenously (through the veins) or through the muscles (by means of injection of a needle.
Some treatment methods for ovarian cancer like chemotherapy can cause pain as a result of the side effects. A patient that undergoes chemotherapy will have a range of discomfort and symptoms that can even remain once chemotherapy is done. When it comes to pain that isn’t related to the disease this can include a variety of things such as headaches and muscle pain.
Today doctors still do not know exactly what causes women to get ovarian cancer. However, research has helped to identify certain risk factors that can lead to ovarian cancer or make a person more susceptible to ovarian cancer. The risk factors will increase a persons chance of developing ovarian cancer.