Ovarian cancer is cancer that develops in the ovary. It causes the proliferation of abnormal cells in the ovary. These cells also have the ability to spread from the place of origin, the ovary, to other parts of the body. Ovarian cancer might not present with severe signs and symptoms in the initial stage but usually worsens as the disease progresses. Some of the common symptoms of this disease include pelvic pain, loss of appetite, abdominal swelling, and so on. Places the cancer growth might spread to involve the lymph nodes, lungs, liver and the lining of the abdomen. Studies have shown that the risk of developing ovarian cancer is more in women who have ovulated more over their lifetime. In addition, the risk of developing this disease also increases in women that have never had any children, those who started ovulating at a young age, and those who attained menopause at an older age. Some of the factors that increase the risk of developing ovarian cancer include menopause, fertility treatment, being overweight and obesity. On the other hand, factors that reduce the risk of developing this disease include hormonal birth control, breastfeeding, and tubal ligation. A small percentage of ovarian cancer has also been attributed to genetics. Ovarian cancer does present in various ways and severity. The most common one is ovarian carcinoma, which represents about 95% of all cases of ovarian cancer. It’s important to consult a gynecologist near me if you notice some of all of the signs and symptoms mentioned above. They diagnose this condition by taking the medical and family history of the patient. This is then followed by a thorough physical examination of the patient. Another diagnostic test that may be done is a biopsy. A tissue sample is taken and examined for the presence of any malignant growth. Patients with a high risk of ovarian cancer do have their ovaries removed surgically, as a preventive measure. This disease can be cured, especially if detected in the early stage. Gynecologists do make use of the combination of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy in the treatment of this condition.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Ovarian Cancer?
Ovarian cancer usually doesn’t cause any sign and symptom in the initial stage of the disease. However, patients present with symptoms as the disease worsens. The symptoms of ovarian cancer are usually confused for other benign conditions that share a lot of similarities with ovarian cancer. Below are some of the signs and symptoms of the disease:
- Patients might present with the swelling and bloating of their abdomen.
- Persons affected with this disease may also quickly feel full when eating.
- Patients may also present with weight loss they can’t explain.
- They may develop some discomfort in their pelvis area.
- Patients usually have the urge to urinate.
- They might present with alterations in their bowel habits, especially constipation.
When Is It Important To Go Consult A Gynecologist?
It’s vital to go consult the best gynecologist near me if you notice you have any of the signs and symptoms mentioned above. Ovarian cancer is curable when it’s detected and treated early. Women with a family history of ovarian cancer or breast cancer, must consult a gynecologist and a genetic counselor, and also go for regular counseling. There are some gene mutations that significantly increases the risk of ovarian and breast cancers.
What Are The Causes Of Ovarian Cancer?
The exact cause of ovarian cancer is not known yet, however, some factors that increase the risk of developing the condition has been identified. Some of these factors include genetic mutations of the DNA. Mutations in the DNA causes the cells to grow and multiply rapidly without any control. These cells can also spread to other parts of the body.
What Are The Types Of Ovarian Cancer?
The type of cell where cancer begins largely determines the type of ovarian cancer a patient would have. Below are some of the types of ovarian cancer:
- Epithelial tumors: This is the type of ovarian cancer that begins in the thin layer of tissue that overlies the outside of the ovary. Studies have shown that about 90% of ovarian cancers are epithelial tumors.
- Stromal tumors: This is the type tumor that begins in the ovarian tissue that has hormone-producing This type of ovarian cancer is mostly diagnosed earlier than other types of ovarian cancer. They represent about 7% of all cases of ovarian tumors.
- Germ cell tumors: This type of ovarian tumor starts in the egg-producing cells of the ovary. They mostly develop in younger women.
What Are The Risk Factors Of Ovarian Cancer?
Ovarian cancer has a direct correlation with the amount of time the woman has spent ovulating. This is why not having children is a risk factor for the development of ovarian cancer. Studies have also shown that women with the fewer menstrual cycle, no menstrual cycles, breastfeeding, multiple pregnancies, have a low risk of developing ovarian cancer. Below are some of the factors that play a role in the development of the disease:
- Hormones: Studies have identified a link between ovarian tumor formation and hormone levels. Those that have undergone treatment for infertility, or remain without children do have a high risk of developing epithelial ovarian cancer. On the other hand, those that have been successfully treated for infertility have a reduced risk of developing ovarian cancer. Some hormonal conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome and endometriosis have also been associated with ovarian cancer. However, there is no sufficient evidence to establish this. Women undergoing postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy also have a high risk of developing ovarian cancer.
- Genetics: Studies have shown that individuals with a family history of ovarian cancer have a high risk of developing ovarian cancer. Individuals affected with diseases such as hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer are prone to developing ovarian cancer. In addition, individuals with a mutation in BRCA1 or BRCA2 have been shown to be responsible for about 10% of all cases of ovarian cancer. This gene can also be inherited from parents. Research has shown that individuals with a first-degree relative with ovarian cancer would eventually develop ovarian cancer too. Also, individuals that have a family history of conditions such as colon cancer, endometrial cancer, gastrointestinal cancer also have a high risk of developing ovarian cancer.
- Environmental factor: Studies have shown that industrialized nations have a high rate of epithelial ovarian cancer. This might be attributed to the type of diet in these countries. In addition, it has been shown that Caucasian women have about a 40% higher risk of having ovarian cancer as compared to black and Hispanic people. This could be due to the fewer number of children they have.
- Alcohol and smoking: Consuming excess amounts of alcohol might increase the risk of developing ovarian cancer. However, there is no sufficient evidence to prove this. In addition, smokers also tend to have a high risk of developing ovarian cancer. This is because cigarette contains up to about 64 carcinogens although smoking cessation would eventually reduce the risk of developing ovarian cancer.
Prevention Of Ovarian Cancer
There is no specific way of preventing ovarian cancer. However, there are some ways to reduce the risk of developing the disease. Below are some of the common ways of doing this:
- Birth control pills: It’s important to get approval from your gynecologist before using birth control pills. Studies have shown that women that use this type of drugs do have a low risk of developing ovarian cancer. However, oral contraceptives also have some side effects. Your gynecologist would help you in weighing the benefits of using the pills against the side effects. The physician will give patients the go-ahead to use pills if the benefits surpass the side effects.
- Open up to your physician: It’s always best to open up to your physician about your medical history and your family medical history. People with relatives affected by ovarian cancer and other reproductive disorders such as endometriosis have a high risk of developing ovarian cancer. The gynecologist might refer the patient to a genetic counselor, to help the individual involved in deciding what’s best for her. People with genes that increase the risk of developing this disease may have to consider having the ovaries removed.
How Is Ovarian Cancer Diagnosed?
Physicians diagnose this condition by initially taking the family and medical history of the patient. This is followed by carrying out a thorough physical examination of the patient. Then the signs and symptoms presented by the patient would be examined. Below are some of the ways physicians diagnose ovarian cancer
- Pelvic examination: During a pelvic examination, the physician would insert her fingers into the vagina of the patient, while simultaneously pressing a hand against the abdomen to palpate the pelvic organs. The examination is concluded after the patient has visually examined the vagina, cervix and the external genitalia of the patient.
- Imaging tests: This is a procedure that involves the use of ultrasound and computed tomography scan in examining the pelvis and the abdomen. It helps physicians in seeing the inner structure, size and shape of the ovaries.
- Blood tests: Blood tests might include organ function tests, which helps to determine the overall health of the patient. Physicians might also test the blood of the patient to check for the presence of any tumor The presence of a tumor marker would indicate that the patient has ovarian cancer. The test helps the physician in deciding the diagnosis and the next line of treatment of the patient.
- Surgery: There are situations in which the physician isn’t sure of the diagnosis of the patient until surgery is carried out to remove an ovary.
After getting the diagnosis, the physician would use the information gotten from the various tests in assigning a stage to the cancer of the patient.
Treatment Of Ovarian Cancer
The treatment of ovarian cancer usually involves a combination of both surgery and chemotherapy. Below are some of the various ways of treating this condition:
- Surgery: Below is some of the ways involved in the removal of ovarian cancer:
- Removal of one ovary: This is done when the cancer is the early stage and hasn’t moved or invaded other parts of the body. The procedure involves removing the affected ovary, and the associated fallopian tube. This procedure might not affect the ability of the woman to get pregnant and give birth.
- Removal of the two ovaries: This is done when cancer affects the two ovaries. The surgeon would have to remove the two ovaries and the fallopian tubes. However, the uterus is usually left intact, and the patient might still be able to get pregnant, by using the patient’s frozen embryo or eggs from a donor.
- Removal of the two ovaries and the uterus: This is done when the ovarian cancer is extensive. It’s done when the patient has no wish to have children anymore. The physician would remove the ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, lymph nodes, and fatty abdominal tissue.
- Chemotherapy and surgery: This is mainly done for advanced cases of ovarian cancer. The physician would recommend the combination of both chemotherapy and surgery.
- Chemotherapy: This is the type of therapy is which medications are used for the killing of fast-growing cells in the body, including cancer cells. These medications are usually injected into the vein, and can also be used orally. Chemotherapy is mostly done after surgery to eliminate any cancer cells that might be left after the surgery.
- Targeted therapy: This type of therapy involves the use of medications to target some vulnerabilities present in the cancer cells. This is used mainly for ovarian cancer that returns after initial
- Radiation therapy: This involves the use of radiations in the treatment of ovarian cancer. Dysgerminomas, a variant of ovarian cancer is most effectively treated with radiation. However, this therapy can lead to other conditions such as infertility, diarrhea, constipation and regular urination.
- Immunotherapy: This is a current and common research topic in ovarian cancer. It involves the use of medications that are being worked on, as a treatment for the disease — an example of a medication that is bevacizumab.
- Palliative care: This is also known as supportive care, and it’s done to improve the symptoms of the patient, and also make the patient as comfortable as possible. Palliative care when used with other treatments helps persons affected with cancer live longer.
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