The Best way to get Over Ovarian Cancer
Ovarian cancer is a cancer that starts in the ovaries. This cancer tends to go undetected till the point it spreads to the pelvis & abdomen. But by the time it reaches this advanced stage, it becomes very difficult to treat and in most cases, proves to be fatal. On the other hand, it is easier to treat, if the ovarian cancer is detected in its early stage, when it hasn’t spread beyond the ovary/s.
Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer
Unfortunately, there are hardly any symptoms in the early stages and this is precisely why it tends to be overlooked. On the other hand there are certain non-specific symptoms of advanced stage cancer which tend to be mistaken for benign conditions that are more common. Ovarian cancer symptoms and signs include:
- Feeling full very quickly while eating
- Abdominal bloating/ swelling
- Weight loss
- Change in bowel movements
- Discomfort in the pelvis area
- Changes in bowel habits, like irritable bowel/ constipation.
- Frequent need to pass urine
Causes of Ovarian Cancer
If you have these worrying signs or symptoms, consult your doctor without delay. There is not much clarity about what exactly causes ovarian cancer. Generally, cancer starts when any genetic mutation transforms normal cells into cancerous cells. These multiply very rapidly and form a tumour/mass. They might also invade the surrounding tissues, break-off from the original tumour and spread to other parts of the body.
Types of Ovarian Cancer
The kind of cell where the cancer has started is what determines the type of ovarian cancer a woman has. The different types of ovarian cancer are:
- Epithelial Tumours– These start in the very thin tissue layer that surrounds the ovaries. Approximately 90% of ovarian cancers turn out to be epithelial cancers
- Stromal Tumours– These start in the ovarian tissue which contains the hormone-producing cells. Generally, these tumours are diagnosed at a much earlier stage than the other ovarian tumours. Around 7% of these tumours are stromal
- Germ Cell Tumours– These start out in egg-producing cells. They are very rare ovarian cancers and tend to occur in much younger women.
Tests for Ovarian Cancer
If your doctor suspects that you have ovarian cancer, there are certain tests that will be carried out to confirm the diagnosis. The different types of tests that will be carried out are:
- The first will be a pelvic examination
- Imaging tests like a CT scan or an ultrasound of the pelvis and abdomen will be taken. These tests help in determining the shape, size and the structure of the ovaries
- A blood test for ovarian cancer will be conducted. This can detect CA 125 which is a protein that is found on surface-level ovarian cancer cells
- If the doctor is able to get a firm diagnosis, he/she will suggest a surgery in which a small tissue sample & abdominal fluid will be extracted to confirm the diagnosis.
Staging of Ovarian Cancer
The results of this surgery will be used by the doctors, to determine what stage the cancer is in. This stage is used to determine the prognosis & your treatment options. The stages of ovarian cancer are:
- Stage I- Cancer is found in 1/ both ovaries
- Stage II- Cancer has already to the other segments of the pelvis
- Stage III- Cancer has now spread to the abdominal area
Ovarian Cancer Treatment
Typically, treatment for ovarian cancer is a combination of surgery & chemotherapy.
- Surgery– The later stage surgery will be more extensive while it will be less complex if the cancer has been diagnosed at a very early stage
- Chemotherapy– After surgery, the patient will also be treated with the required chemotherapy. These drugs may be injected into the abdominal cavity/ veins, or both.
Finding out that you have cancer can be a big shock. Apart from the medical help you seek; it is also important that you discuss your feelings and the situation with a family member or friend. Cancer treatments tend to be very exhausting and you should get enough rest and eat well and also undergo some counselling if required.