Cancer develops when abnormal cells in a part of the body begin to grow uncontrollably. This can result in tumors and damage to the immune system. This abnormal cell growth is common among all cancer types, one of which is ovarian cancer.
What is Ovarian Cancer?
According to Mayo Clinic, ovarian cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the ovaries. An ovary is a small almond-shaped organ located on each side of the uterus. It stores eggs, or germ cells, and produce female hormones estrogen and progesterone. The female reproductive system contains two ovaries.
What are the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer
1. Abdominal bloating or swelling
2. Quickly feeling full when eatin
3. Pain in the pelvis area
4. Changes in bowel habits, such as constipation.
5. A frequent need to urinate
6. Pains during sexual intercourse
As the cancer progresses, there may also be:
8. Weight loss
11. Loss of appetite.
Causes of ovarian cancer
According to Medical News Today, the following risk factors are linked to a higher chance of developing the disease:
1. Family history
Women with close relatives who have had ovarian or breast cancer have a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer, compared with other women.
Genetic screening can determine whether a person carries certain genes that are associated with an increased risk.
Most cases of ovarian cancer occur after menopause, and especially in women aged over 63 years. It is rare before the age of 40 years.
3. Fertility treatment
Fertility drugs have been linked to a higher risk of ovarian cancer, especially in women who used them for more than one year without becoming pregnant.
4. Breast cancer
Women who have received a diagnosis of breast cancer have a higher chance of being diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
5. Obesity and overweight
Obesity and overweight appear to increase the risk of developing many cancers. Ovarian cancer is more common in women with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of over 30.
Women who develop endometriosis have around 30 percent higher risk of developing ovarian cancer, compared with other women.
Stages of ovarian cancer
If ovarian cancer is diagnosed, the next step is to identify its stage and grade. The stage of a cancer refers to the cancer’s spread.
There are different ways of staging cancer. The American Cancer Society uses a four-stage system.
Stage 1: Cancer cells affect only the ovary or ovaries and have not spread to another area.
Stage 2: The cancer has affected one or both ovaries and also other organs within the pelvis, such as the uterus, fallopian tubes, bladder, or rectum.
Stage 3: The cancer affects one or both ovaries and either the lining of the abdomen or lymph nodes in the back of the abdomen.
Stage 4: The cancer has spread to other parts of the body, outside the peritoneal cavity. This cavity includes the abdomen and the pelvis. Areas that may now be affected include the liver, spleen, and the fluid around the lungs.
How to treat ovarian cancer
Ovarian cancer often goes undetected until it has spread within the pelvis and abdomen. Identifying the stage and grade will help the doctor to decide on the best treatment.
Treatment for ovarian cancer may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, or targeted therapy. Often, more than one treatment is used.