According to a research, ovarian cancer is the fifth main causes of cancer deaths among women. Every year, about 22,000 people will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer. When the cancerous cells start growing in an ovary, it results in ovarian cancer. It is difficult to detect this cancer in its early stage because the ovaries deeply lie within the abdominal cavity. There are various risk factors that could result in this cancer like family history, obesity, older age etc.
There are different kinds of ovarian cancer that arise from the cells of the ovary:
Epithelial Ovarian Cancer: It has the high risk of occurrence. Most of the women are vulnerable to this type. This type arises due to change of DNAs in cells that could lead to the growth of cancer.
Germ Cell Ovarian Cancer: They arise from the reproductive cells of the ovary. This type of cancer is not very common and usually found in teenage girls.
Sex Cord-Stromal Tumors: This type occur from supportive tissues that are found in ovary itself. They emerge from different cells within the body.
In most of the times, ovarian cancer starts in the epithelium or the outer lining of the ovary. It shows some symptoms, but this cancer is hardly detected. Few symptoms may be premenstrual syndrome(PMS), intestinal problems, upset stomach etc.
There are some early symptoms that persist in this type of cancer:
- Back Pain
- Trouble Eating
- Pelvic Pain
- Abdominal pain
- Menstrual Changes
- Pain during sex
- Stool Problems
- Weight Loss
- Loss of appetite
Some causes of Ovarian Cancer:
Family History: This factor plays an important role. If your relatives have had ovarian cancer, you are more likely to develop ovarian cancer. It also depends on menstrual cycles. If you ovulate more, that means you may be more vulnerable to ovarian cancer.
There is a process called genetic screening that can tell whether a person is carrying genes that could lead to ovarian cancer or not.
Reproductive History: If women get pregnant after 30 yrs or more, they are more prone to ovarian cancer. Having pregnancy before 26 yrs reduces your chances of ovarian cancer. Breastfeeding may also play an important role in lowering the chances.
Infertility Treatment: The drugs that are taking while undergoing fertility treatment have shown women getting more prone to ovarian cancer. Infertile women may also have the risk of cancer.
What are the stages?
There are multiple stages of ovarian cancer. It is better to detect them early because as the stage increases, the severity of cancer gets worse.
Stage 1: It is an early stage of ovarian cancer in which the cells only begin to affect the ovary and do not spread to other parts.
Stage 2: After the development of cancer cells in the ovary, it affects both the ovaries and also the organs present in the pelvic region of the body like the uterus, fallopian tube etc.
Stage 3: After reaching out to the region near the pelvis, it starts affecting the abdominal lining of the body.
Stage 4: This is the last and worse stage of ovarian cancer in which the cancerous cells have spread to other parts of the body like liver, spleen or lungs.
How is it diagnosed?
Multiple tests need to be run for proper diagnosis of ovarian cancer as it is hard to detect this type of cancer. The tests are:
- Blood Tests
- Imaging Tests
What are the treatments?
Various types of surgeries are done on the patient for treating ovarian cancer. Some of them are:
Chemotherapy: Some medications are given to kill the cells of cancer. The drugs are poisonous to the cells. This therapy helps to prevent the cancer cells from bifurcating and spreading to other parts of the body. It generally targets cancer cells and kills them in case the surgery did not remove it.
Surgery: Most of the time, if a patient has ovarian cancer, she undergoes surgery that removes the cancerous cells from the body. There are various ways in which surgery could be done like ovaries and fallopian tubes could be removed to get rid of cancer or the uterus may be removed if the cancer cells have reached to that region.
Hormone Therapy: The supply of estrogen is cut down in this therapy so as to slow down the development of cancerous cells in the body.
Radiation Therapy: In this treatment, a high beam of radiations are emitted from the machine to kill the cells of cancer and reduce the further growth of cancer.