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Ovarian Cancer Awareness

because it matters ...


We are talking about the fifth most common female cancer which also happens to be the most fatal one among all the cancers of the female reproductive system. Yes, it is the ovarian cancer. This is more common among white women. In US alone 22,000 women are newly diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year and about 15,000 die. Overall, 1 in 72 woman are diagnosed with ovarian cancer during their lifetime.

Ovaries are two in number, just the size of an almond, that are organs which release eggs and hormones of the female reproductive system. Cancer develops in the cells and tissues of the ovaries. The most common one is the one that develops on the epithelium or outer surface. During ovulation an egg is released from the ovary and swept over to the Fallopian tube. A recent research says that the fluid that is released with the egg from the ovary has certain growth factors, which damage the DNA of the adjacent Fallopian tube cells and several high grade cancers seem to develop from the cells at the ends of the Fallopian tubes rather than the ovaries themselves. So, lower the ovulation, lesser is the risk. Hence pregnancy, lactation, birth control pills all which stop or slow down ovulation plays an important role in lowering the risk.

There are no clear cut symptoms or diagnosis for ovarian cancer and usually it goes undetected until the tumor has grown large or has spread to other adjacent organs. No screening test or pelvic exam or CA125 blood test or a transvaginal ultrasound has proved to be an accurate diagnostic tool. Blood tests, chest x- Ray, colonoscopy, MRI, x-rays only help in identifying the extent of spread to other organs, but the abdomen may need to be opened up to confirm ovarian cancer.

Family history plays an important role is risk stratification. A woman's risk is tripled if a first-degree relative like mother, sister, or daughter has had ovarian cancer. This cancer usually runs in families. Families may have the mutated versions of BRCA1 and BRCA 2 genes. These women who fall in the 15 to 40% category go on to develop the cancer by their 50 years of age. However, there need not be a genetic link to get the disease and 85 to 90% fall in this category. Fertility drugs, hormone replacement therapy after menopause and obesity do increase the risk or in short risk goes up with age. So, if there is a strong risk factor identification, then removal of ovaries may be considered as a preventive step.

Surgery is the standard treatment where one or both ovaries and/or the remaining reproductive organs are removed. Medicines, chemotherapy and/or radiation may be necessary depending on the stage of the disease. The survival rate for this condition is normally 5 years. There may be cancer left out after the surgery or one may become totally free of cancer. In any case, periodic follow-up becomes mandatory.

Symptoms to watch:

Though ovarian cancer is difficult to be detected early, these are some symptoms to watch.

* Abdominal pressure, fullness,or bloating
* Pelvic discomfort or pain
* Persistent indigestion, gas or nausea
* Changes in bowel or bladder habits, such as constipation or frequent urination.
* Loss of appetite or feeling full fast.
* Increased abdominal girth or clothes feeling tight around the waist.
* Fatigue or persistent lack of energy

These symptoms appear to be more common ones, but in ovarian cancer, the symptoms tend to last longer and become worse with time. Studies suggest that 43% with ovarian cancer experience a combination of the above symptoms while only 8% without ovarian cancer experience the above symptoms. So, no one need to panic, but definitely ruling out ovarian cancer and doing a risk analysis is important.

Know about the various stages of ovarian cancer from our video.

Watch the Video: Stages of Ovarian Cancer

It is not flesh and blood ...





It is not flesh and blood
but the heart which makes us
fathers and sons.

- Johann Schiller

Disclaimer: The above content is provided for information and awareness purpose only. It is not prescriptive or suggestive or meant to replaces your qualified physician's advice or consultation.