Ovarian Cancer Symptoms

Ovarian cancer: Symptoms, Causes, Stages, Treatment, Prevention

Table of Contents

What is Ovarian cancer?

Ovarian cancer is a type of cancer that starts in a woman’s ovaries. These are the organs in the female body that make eggs. When abnormal cell in the ovaries grow too much, they form tumors, causing ovarian cancer, it’s called the ‘’silent killer’’ because it’s hard to notice symptoms early on. “(Related: Lung cancer, breast cancer, Prostate cancer )”

How to check for ovarian cancer at home?

You can’t reliably check for ovarian cancer at home. Ovarian cancer is hard to find early because its signs can be subtle. But if you have ongoing symptoms like belly bloating, pelvic pain, trouble eating, or changes in bathroom habits, it’s important to see a doctor.

What Are Ovarian Cancer Symptoms?

Bloating

  • Feeling like your belly is bigger than usual.
  • Feeling full quickly, even if you haven’t eaten much.

Pelvic or Abdominal Pain

  • Having pain in your lower belly or pelvic area.
  • The pain doesn’t go away, even after resting.

Trouble Eating

  • Feeling full fast when you eat.
  • Finding it hard to eat as much as before.

Urinary Changes

  • You will pee more often.
  • Feeling like you can’t empty your bladder fully.

Changes in Bowel Habits

  • Having constipation or diarrhea.
  • Feeling like you need to go to the bathroom more or less than usual.

Fatigue

  • In fatigue you will feel very tired all the time.
  • Finding it hard to do your usual activities.

Unexplained Weight Loss

  • Weight loss without trying.
  • Noticing that your clothes are looser.

What are the Causes?

Genetic Changes

  • Changes in genes we inherit can cause ovarian cancer.
  • These changes may happen randomly or be passed down from parents.

Family History

  • Having a family member with ovarian, breast, or colon cancer can increase your risk.
  • It suggests a genetic predisposition to the disease.

Age

  • Ovarian cancer is more common as women get older, especially after 50.
  • The risk increases with age.

Reproductive Factors

  • Factors like never having been pregnant or starting periods early may raise the risk.
  • Later menopause may also play a role

Hormones

  • Using hormone treatments after menopause or other hormonal factors could contribute.
  • Hormonal changes over a woman’s lifetime may affect cancer risk.

Lifestyle and Environment

Smoking, being overweight, or exposure to certain chemicals might increase the risk. Environmental factors can interact with genetic predisposition to influence cancer development.

Stages?

Stage 1

  • Cancer is only In the ovaries or fallopian tubes.
  • It hasn’t spread to other organs nearby.

Stage 2

  • Cancer has spread to nearby pelvic organs.
  • It hasn’t reached organs outside the pelvis.

Stage 3

  • Cancer has spread beyond the pelvis.
  • It may involve other organs in the abdomen.

Stage 4

  • Cancer has spread to distant organs like the lungs.
  • It may also involve lymph nodes far from the ovaries.

What is the survival rate for ovarian cancer?

Early Stage (Stage 1)

  • About 90 out of 100 women survive for at least 5 years.
  • Cancer is often found early, making treatment easier.

Advanced Stage (Stages II-IV)

  • Between 30 to 50 out of 100 women survive for at least 5 years.
  • Cancer has spread more, making treatment harder.

Important Notes

  1. Survival rates are estimates and might not be the same for everyone. things like the type of cancer and how well treatment works can affect survival.
  2. New treatments have improved chances for many women.
  3. Finding cancer early and getting treatment quickly are important for better survival chances.

How to Diagnose?

Physical Exam

Doctor checks for lumps or changes in the ovaries by feeling the belly. They also look for any signs of fluid buildup in the abdomen.

Imaging Tests

  • Scans like ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI take pictures of the ovaries to find tumors.
  • These tests help doctors see if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

Blood Tests

  • CA – 125 blood test checks for a protein that’s sometimes high in ovarian cancer.
  • But it’s not always accurate and can be high for other reasons too.

Biopsy

  • Taking a small piece of tissue from the ovary to check under a microscope for cancer cells.
  • This is the best way to know for sure if it’s ovarian cancer.

Surgery

Sometimes, surgery is needed to confirm the diagnosis and see how far the cancer has spread. During surgery, doctors may take samples of tissue to check for cancer and determine the stage.

Treatment and Medication?

Surgery

Surgery is usually the first step in treating ovarian cancer. The goal is to remove as much of the tumor as possible, along with the ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, and nearby lymph nodes.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy involves using drugs to kill cancer cells. It may be given before surgery (neoadjuvant chemotherapy) to shrink the tumor, or after surgery (adjuvant chemotherapy) to kill any remaining cancer cells.

Targeted Therapy

Targeted therapy drugs attack specific abnormalities within cancer cells. Drugs such as bevacizumab (Avastin) or olaparib (Lynparza) may be used alone or in combination with chemotherapy to improve treatment effectiveness.

Hormone Therapy

Hormone therapy may be used for certain types of ovarian cancer that are hormone – sensitive. Drugs like letrozole (Femare) or tamoxifen (Nolvaded) are used to block or lower estrogen levels to slow cancer growth.

Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy drugs help the immune system recognize and attack cancer cells. Drugs such as pembrolizumab (Keytruda) or nivolumab (Opdivo) are sometimes used in combination with other treatments for advanced or recurrent ovarian cancer.

Clinical Trials

Participation in clinical trials may offer access to new treatments or experimental therapies not yet available to the public. They can help advance research and improve treatment options for ovarian cancer in the future.

Prevention?

Birth Control Pills

  • Taking birth control pills for a long time might lower the risk.
  • Birth control pills can stop ovulation, which may help prevent ovarian Cancer.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding can lower the risk.
  • Women pregnant and breastfeeding can lower the risk

Tubal Ligation or Hysterectomy

  • Surgeries like tying the tubes or removing the uterus may lower the risk.
  • These surgeries reduce the chance of ovarian tissue being exposed to things that can cause cancer.

Genetic Counseling and Testing

  • Women with a family history of ovarian or breast cancer can get genetic counseling and testing.
  • Finding genetic mutations can help decide on preventive measures or checkups.

Healthy Lifestyle

  • Keeping a healthy weight, eating lots of fruits and veggies, and staying active might help.
  • Avoiding smoking and limiting alcohol can also lower the risk.

Regular Check – ups

Getting regular pelvic exams and talking to a doctor about any concerns can help catch any problems early. There aren’t specific tests for ovarian cancer for everyone, but those with a higher risk might need extra checkups.

Thinking About Preventive Surgery

For women with a high risk, surgeries to remove the ovaries and tubes might be an option. This can greatly reduce the chance of getting ovarian cancer, but it’s a big decision with possible side effects.

FAQ's

How does ovarian cancer begin?

Ovarian cancer starts when cells in the ovaries begin to grow out of control this can create tumors, which can be either harmless or cancerous. Things like changes in genes, hormones, family history, age, and certain environmental factors can increase the risk of ovarian cancer. Recognizing these factors can help with finding the cancer early, preventing it, and treating it effectively.

How painful is ovarian cancer?

Ovarian cancer can cause different levels of pain for different people. Some may feel discomfort in their belly or pelvis, while others might not feel any pain at all, especially in the early stages. As the cancer grows or spreads, it can cause more pain. However, how much pain someone feels can vary from person to person.

Can ovarian cancer be 100% cured?

Ovarian cancer can be completely cured depending on many things. If it’s found early and hasn’t spread, there’s a chance for a full cure. But if it’s discovered later or has spread, curing it completely becomes harder. Treatment can still help manage the cancer and improve life quality. It’s important to talk to doctors about individual situations and treatment options.

Is ovarian cancer serious?

Yes, ovarian cancer is a serious condition. It can be life – threatening if not found and treated early. Ovarian cancer is often discovered late, making it harder to treat. But with better medical care and finding it early, the outlook is improving. It’s important to take ovarian cancer seriously and see a doctor if there are any symptoms of a family history of the disease. Finding it early and treating it can help a lot.

Can ovarian cancer cause death?

Yes, ovarian cancer can cause death, especially if it’s not found and treated early. Ovarian cancer is serious and can be hard to treat if it’s discovered late. But with better medical care and finding it early, the chances of surviving are better. It’s important to see a doctor if there are any symptoms or a family history of the disease. Finding it early and treating it can help prevent death from ovarian cancer.

How long can a woman live with ovarian cancer?

  1. Early Stage: If the cancer is found early when it’s only in the ovaries or nearby, treatment can be effective. Many women can live for several years or even be cured.
  2. Advanced Stage: If the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, it’s harder to treat. Some women may live for several years with treatment, but others may have a shorter time.

Where I can get more information on ovarian cancer?

If you want to do more research on ovarian cancer then you can also visit Wikipedia.

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