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ovarian cancer

Things to Know About Ovarian Cancer

Dr. Kapil Kumar
20 Nov 2018
 4.51 Vote(s)
Visits: 10844

Ovarian cancer grows rapidly and forms a mass or tumor inside ovaries. Often called as silent killer, women who are suffering from ovarian cancer are hardly able to detect its symptoms. Read this article to know all about ovarian cancer including its symptoms, connection with oral contraceptives, survival rate and risk factors associated with it.

Ovarian cancer is the sixth most common cancer among all cancer types and it affects females over the age group of 45 years and above. Ovarian cancer is also called a silent killer because its symptoms can be vague, largely because there is no reliable screening test and lack of awareness among women resulting into a high fatality rate. Sometimes symptoms, such as persistent bloating, pain in the abdomen, heartburn and a change in urinary frequency can result in tests for unrelated issues thus delaying treatment for cancer. 

Symptom recognition is extremely important since there is no diagnostic tool for ovarian cancer. Cancers are treated in the best way when detected early hence consult a doctor if you experience new and unusual symptoms. The risk of developing ovarian cancer is two percent among the general population of women in the course of their lifetime. However, some women have an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer. All women should be aware of the risk factors and other signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer. Find out more about types of ovarian cancer.

Ovarian cancer

Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer

Often at the initial stage of ovarian cancer, there are no symptoms. The frequency and/or a number of such symptoms are key factors in the diagnosis of ovarian cancer.

Several studies show that ovarian cancer can produce the following symptoms:

  • Bloating and swelling of the stomach
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain
  • Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
  • Loss of appetite
  • Urinating more often than the usual days

See your doctor, preferably a gynecologist, if you have these symptoms for more than two weeks, and the symptoms are new or unusual for you.

Other symptoms of ovarian cancer can include:

  • Change in the bowel habits
  • Loss of strength and weakness all the time
  • Feeling tired very easily
  • Persistent indigestion or nausea
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Frequent back pain
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding – particularly bleeding after the menopause
  • Unintentional weight loss

Ovarian Cancer

Here are some of the things that every woman should know about ovarian cancer:

1. It is Known as the Silent Killer: Bloating, abdominal pain and feeling the need to urinate frequently are symptoms associated with ovarian cancer. Since symptoms are so vague, it is often mistaken for the symptoms of some other abnormalities.  That is why ovarian cancer is often called as a silent disease. It is very important for women to know the symptoms so that they can go to their doctor if the symptoms persist or worsen.
2. Oral Contraceptives Pills (birth control pills) Reduce the Risk of Ovarian Cancer: Those women who are on contraceptive pills or are dependent on pills for hormone control, cramp killer, unplanned pregnancy prevention, and protection from cancer have a lesser risk of ovarian cancer. If a woman has taken oral contraceptives for at least five years during her 20s or 30s, she can reduce the risk of ovarian cancer by 50 percent.

Women who take pills do not release eggs every month, their ovaries are less damaged and hence the risk of developing cancerous cells is likely to be lower.

Types of Ovarian Cancer

There are five different types of ovarian cancer namely:

  • Epithelial ovarian cancer is the most common form of ovarian cancer. Almost 90 percent of women are diagnosed with an epithelial form of ovarian cancer. This cancer begins in the thin layer of tissue that covers the outside of the ovaries. 
  • Stromal ovarian cancer starts in the ovarian tissue that contains hormone-producing cells. Around eight percent of ovarian cancers are stromal and it is usually diagnosed at an earlier stage than other ovarian tumors.
  • Germ cell ovarian cancer begins in the egg-producing cells within the body of the ovary. This type of cancer is common among younger women.
  • Fallopian tube cancer is also called tubal cancer, this type of cancer starts in the fallopian tubes that connect the ovaries and the uterus. Fallopian tube cancer is very rare and accounts for only one to two percent of all gynecologic cancers.

Ovarian Cancer Can Be Hereditary

The risk of ovarian cancer increases if any of the family members had developed ovarian or breast cancer earlier. A family history of cancers such as colorectal and breast cancer is linked to increased risk of ovarian cancer because these cancers are caused by an inherited mutation in genes that causes a family cancer syndrome.

Ovarian Cancer Treatment 

Chemotherapy and surgical procedures are one of the most common ways of treating ovarian cancer. The former is staged surgically which means that it helps the doctor work out how far the tumor has spread within the pelvic cavity. While Chemotherapy is the treatment of cancer by using anti-cancer (cytotoxic) drugs, these drugs when injected, destroy the cancer cells causing the least possible damage to normal and healthy cells. 

Other Factors Involving Ovarian Cancer 

There are various other factors that can affect a person’s chances of developing ovarian cancer:

1. Ethnicity: Sometimes ovarian cancer is more prevalent in white women, especially amongst women belonging to North American, North European or Ashkenazi Jewish heritage. Almost around 22,400 women in America are diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year out of which 14,200 women die because of the fatal condition. Black women, Asian and Pacific Islander women, and American Indian and Alaskan Native women follow the numbers.

2. Age factor: The risk of ovarian cancer increases with age. Women are more likely to develop ovarian cancer after menopause. Half of all diagnoses occur in women under the age group of 63 years or older. Ovarian cancer is quite rare in women between the age group of 40 to 45 years

3. Personal medical history matter: If a woman had a personal medical history of breast cancer there may be an increased risk even of ovarian cancer even if they do not have BRCA mutation. 

4. Use of Talcum powder: Many women are not aware of the fact that talcum powder can cause cancer in the ovaries if it reaches there at a regular basis to cause harmful effects. However, it has been found that the overall increase of talcum powder to cause cancer is likely to be very small, so it is important to determine if the increased risk is real.

Survival rate

The survival rate is the percentage of women who survive for a given stage of diagnosis. For example, the four-year survival rate is the percentage of patients who received a diagnosis at a particular stage and lived at least for four years after their doctor diagnosed them. The relative survival rate also takes into consideration the expected rate of death for people without cancer.

To get information about ovarian cancer treatments and make decisions about the next step, follow Elacancer blog. If you are facing ovarian cancer, we can help you learn options about the treatment and find the best cancer specialist to make your ordeal easy. You can call us at +91-8929020600 for proper assistance and guidance on cancer. 

Dr. Kapil Kumar

About the Author

Surgical Oncologist
Dr. Kapil Kumar is an Oncologist and cancer specialist practicing at BLK Hospital in Rajendra Place, Delhi. He specializes in Breast cancer, Oncoplastic surgery, Upper G.I. Onco surgery, Pancreatic Biliary surgery, and Thoracic surgery including Esophagus cancer. He has completed his MBBS from Amritsar Government Medical College and Hospital. Further, he pursued MS from Amritsar Government Medical College and Hospital. Dr. Kapil is a member of Indian Society of Oncology (I.S.O.) and International Society of Diseases of Esophagus. He is also a member of Delhi Medical Association (D.M.A.). He got Dhanvantari award from Cholay 1 Foundation for Onco- Surgery work. He has worked in various hospitals as Senior Consultant Oncologist. Dr. Kapil has an experience of more than two and a half decade in this field. BLK Hospital is JCI, NABH and NABL accredited. It is one of the most successful and largest private sector hospitals situated in Delhi. Book appointment with Dr. Kapil Kumar at Elacancer.com.
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1 Comment

Indrasena Saraswathi
Nov. 20, 2018, 4:53 p.m.
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