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Ovarian Cancer

By Dr. Shefali Sardana in Cancer Care / Oncology

Feb 05 , 2020 | 2 min read

Ovarian cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the ovaries. The female reproductive system contains two ovaries, one on each side of the uterus. The ovaries — each about the size of an almond — produce eggs (ova) as well as the hormones estrogen and progesterone.

Ovarian cancer often goes undetected until it has spread within the pelvis and abdomen. At this late stage, ovarian cancer is more difficult to treat. Early-stage ovarian cancer, in which the disease is confined to the ovary, is more likely to be treated successfully.

WHO IS AT RISK

  • All women are at risk
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Personal or family history of breast, ovarian, or colon cancer
  • Increasing age
  • Infertility

 

While the presence of one or more risk factors may increase a woman's chance of developing ovarian cancer, it does not necessarily mean that she will get the disease. A woman with one or more risk factors should be extra vigilant in watching for early symptoms.

Genetic Testing is Recommended for Those With:

  • A personal or family history of ovarian cancer.
  • A personal history of breast cancer before age 50.
  • A personal or family history of male breast cancer.
  • A known BRCA1 or BRCA2 genetic mutation or identified Lynch Syndrome in the family.
  • Ashkenazi Jewish heritage.
  • A personal history of triple negative breast cancer diagnosed at age 60 or younger.
  • A personal history of breast cancer at any age and a family member diagnosed with breast cancer at age 50 or younger.
  • A personal history of colorectal or uterine cancer before age 50.
  • A family history of breast cancer at age 45 or younger..

The sooner ovarian cancer is found and treated, the better a woman's chance for survival. It is important to know that early stage symptoms can be difficult to detect, though are not always silent. As a result, it is important that women listen to their bodies and watch for early symptoms that may present.

Signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer may include:

  • Abdominal bloating or swelling.
  • Quickly feeling full when eating.
  • Weight loss.
  • Discomfort in the pelvis area.
  • Changes in bowel habits, such as constipation.
  • A frequent need to urinate.

When the symptoms are persistent, when they do not resolve with normal interventions (like diet change, exercise, laxatives, rest) it is imperative for a woman to see her doctor

Treatment options

Surgery:

Surgery to remove the cancerous growth is the most common method of diagnosis and therapy for ovarian cancer. It is best performed by a qualified gynecologic oncologist. Most women with ovarian cancer will have surgery at some point during the course of their disease, and each surgery has different goals.

Chemotherapy

Before treatment begins, it is important to understand how chemotherapy works. Chemotherapy is the treatment of cancer using chemicals designed to destroy cancer cells or stop them from growing. The goal of chemotherapy is to cure cancer, shrink tumors prior to surgery or radiation therapy, destroy cells that might have spread, or control tumor growth.RAD MORE »

Radiation

Radiation therapy uses high-­energy X­-rays to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Please note that this therapy is rarely used in the treatment of ovarian cancer in the United States. It is more often used in other parts of the body where cancer has spread.

 Targeted therapies: 

Treatment with newer drugs like angiogenesis inhibitors i.e Bevacizumab and PARP inhibitors i.e Olaparib which act on tumor cells and tumor micro-environment are also new therapeutic options.

So, like any other cancer, EARLY DETECTION IS THE KEY TO CURE. Do not ignore your symptoms which are persistent and become aware to fight this deadly disease.