What Are the Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer?
In the early stages, ovarian cancer has little or no symptoms. Ovarian cancer symptoms are often overlooked as they are similar to other illnesses that are common and can be treated with over-the-counter (OTC) medicines. However, if ovarian cancer symptoms repeatedly come and go, getting professional help should be considered. The ovarian cancer symptoms include:
- Pressure, pain and bloating in the abdominal region
- Difficulty eating and abnormal fullness after every meal
- Increased urination
- Abnormal pain during sex
- Pelvic or abdominal pain
- Severe back pain
- Changes in the menstrual cycle and constipation
- Heartburn and upset stomach
Though these symptoms may occur because of any other condition in the body, if someone has had one or more of these for a significant period, it is advisable to consult a specialist. These symptoms might not be severe in the initial stage but as the tumour grows and the cancer spreads outside of the ovaries, the pain can become severe. Like any other cancer, ovarian cancer, if detected in later stages is hard to treat.
Causes of Ovarian Cancer
The division and multiplication of cells in an unregulated way in the ovaries causes ovarian cancer. Though, the root cause behind this cancer type is still unknown, there are many risk factors that increase the chance of developing this disease.
- Family history – If someone in the family has had ovarian or breast cancer in the past, the risk increases
- Majority of ovarian cancer cases are registered for women over 65
- If someone has never been pregnant/unexplained infertility
- Early mensuration and late menopause
- Had been through colorectal, uterine and breast cancer
- Hormone replacement therapy increases the chances of developing ovarian cancer
- Overweight and obesity can also increase the risk
What Are the Types of Ovarian Cancer?
Differentiated by the kind and type of cells in which cancer starts, there are three main types
- Epithelial Ovarian Tumours – Epithelial Tumours develop from the cells that cover the surface of the fallopian tube or the ovary.
- Germ cell Ovarian Tumours – These are derived from the ova or egg producing cells and most of them are not even cancerous.
- Cord-stromal Cell Ovarian Tumours – Termed as a rare class of tumours, these are derived from the connective tissue that produce female hormones and hold the ovary together.
What Are the Treatment Options for Ovarian Cancer?
Once the patient is through with the several diagnostic tests, the specialist may recommend one or more ovarian cancer treatment options depending on the stage. The main ovarian cancer treatment options include:
Surgery – Most ovarian cancers can be treated by surgery. The extent of surgery required usually depends on how far cancer has spread and also on the general health of the patient. In many cases, the disease is treatable even without the removal of the uterus and ovaries. The main goal of the surgery is to remove the cancer completely from the body.
Chemotherapy – When the cancer has metastasized in other parts of the body, the patient must undergo Chemotherapy. It is a systematic treatment in which the drugs are given in a way that they reach all parts of the body. Most of the time, the drugs are either injected into a vein, through a thin tube into the abdominal cavity or by mouth.
Hormone Therapy – Hormone-blocking drugs are used to fight cancer in Hormone Therapy. This treatment option is helpful in treating ovarian stromal tumours.
Targeted Therapy – Relatively a new treatment type, targeted therapy uses drugs that directly attack the cancer cells while causing less harm to the normal cells.
Radiation Therapy – The use of high-energy particles or X-rays to kill cancer cells is known as Radiation Therapy. However, Radiation Therapy is employed parallelly with chemotherapy or when patient does not respond to other treatment options.
Life After Ovarian Cancer Treatment
Completing ovarian cancer treatment is no doubt stressful. However, in many cases, the patient starts worrying about the recurrence of the cancer and profoundly notices every small pain in the body. Furthermore, it takes a few months to settle with the idea of completing the treatment and start living a normal life like before. Here are a few things that can help every survivor recover fast and lead a better life –
- Save energy and use it on things that are important
- Don’t push your body too hard to finish any task
- Seek help from friends and family members
- Incorporate a healthy lifestyle
- Keep away from stress and think of ways in which you can reduce it
- Create the perfect balance between being active and resting
- Be vocal about how you feel to the people around you
- Try not to rush things and set a goal for your life
Follow Up Care After Ovarian Cancer Treatment
Once the necessary treatment is completed, it is vital to visit your treating doctor for all the follow-up appointments. During these visits, the doctor will watch your progress closely by performing various exams and asking you several questions. Remember, every treatment has its own set of side-effects that last for a few weeks to months and may vary for everyone. Give your doctor a clear idea about your condition and side-effects that you may be experiencing.