World Ovarian Cancer Day: Recognize the Signs of Ovarian Cancer | Max Hospital

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World Ovarian Cancer Day: Recognize the Signs of Ovarian Cancer

By Dr. Satinder Kaur in Robotic Surgery , Gynecologic Oncology , Cancer Care / Oncology , Surgical Oncology

Jun 05 , 2024 | 3 min read

Ovarian cancer was reported as the third most common gynecological cancer worldwide. As per Globocan data 2022, ovarian cancer is the third most common cancer, accounting for around 47 thousand cases every year. It is not a singular diagnosis but an umbrella term for different types of cancer affecting the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the primary peritoneal cavity.

What are Some Signs and Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer?

Unfortunately, there are no definitive signs and symptoms for this disease, which is why ovarian cancer is a silent killer. Patients may have vague complaints like persistent bloating, the feeling of fullness, urinary symptoms or constipation, which most people attribute to faulty eating habits, stress or gastritis. It is often diagnosed at late stages. Symptom awareness might lead to rapid diagnosis, which makes it more treatable.

Is there any Screening Test for Ovarian Cancer?

"Till now, despite advancements in medical science, we have not come up with any singular test that can be of assurance for screening ovarian cancer  like for cervical cancer. Awareness is key. This cancer has some genetic predisposition, too, which puts the person in a high-risk category. We must look around if anyone in the family has had cancer, especially of the breast and ovaries. We must encourage them to speak to their doctor if they are eligible for genetic counseling and testing."

Are there any Modifiable Factors which can Affect the Risk of Developing Ovarian Cancer?

Several risk factors for developing ovarian cancer have been identified, like long-term use of OCP breastfeeding decreases the risk. In contrast, early menarche, late menopause, and genetic predisposition to BRCA mutation increase the risk. It is important to note that while having a risk factor increases the chances of developing cancer, it does not necessarily mean individuals will get cancer. Likewise, not having a risk factor does not mean that you definitely won't get cancer.

What are the Treatment Options for Cancer Ovaries?

Surgery is the primary form of treatment – with or without chemotherapy. Individuals with advanced disease may also need chemotherapy first, followed by surgery. If cancer relapses after treatment, it will be managed with chemotherapy (possibly together with targeted therapy) to slow down its growth and relieve your symptoms with or without surgery.

Are there any Potential Side Effects of Cancer Treatment?

If the patient hasn't gone through menopause, surgery will trigger premature menopause, causing bone loss and cardiovascular disease, with other common menopause symptoms like hot flashes and vaginal dryness (which can be dealt with hormonal replacement therapy). Newer chemotherapeutic drugs are much safer and have fewer side effects with better management of induced side effects like nausea, vomiting, anemia and hair loss.

Can a Patient have Children after an Ovarian Cancer Diagnosis?

When diagnosed at an early stage, fertility-sparing surgery can be done to allow the patient to complete their family. But not everything is lost, even if cancer is diagnosed a little late. Fertility specialists can evaluate the options for having a family in future, like egg preservation, in vitro fertilization and other advanced fertility options.

How is Life once Diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer?

"I'd like to say the statistics may be bad, but we are not just statistics- we may change our odds by taking the lead in life. Learn about the disease and work as a partner with doctors. Never give up; your family, friends and caregiver team is your best support team."

World Ovarian Cancer Day is a global healthcare event commemorated every year on May 8th to raise awareness about ovarian cancer. On this day, many local and international organizations step up to create awareness about the disease and the importance of early diagnosis and screening.