Ovarian cancer refers to any cancerous growth that begins in the ovary. It is the third most common gynaecological cancer among Indian women, chronologically following breast cancer and cervical cancer.
The human female reproductive system comprises two ovaries that lie on either side of the uterus. They are primarily responsible for producing reproductive eggs (Ova) every month along with the hormones estrogen and progesterone.
With a five-year survival rate of 45%, ovarian cancer has one of the worst prognoses amongst gynaecological cancers. Primarily, this is due to its diagnosis at a later stage and lack of definite symptoms during an early stage.
Early-Stage: Symptoms at an early stage of ovarian cancer are rarely visible.
Advanced-Stage: A few symptoms which are believed to be benign conditions and thus, overlooked by most women.
Some of the symptoms which are more likely seen in women with an advanced-stage ovarian cancer are:
- Bloating or swelling in the abdomen
- Weight loss
- Changes in bowel movements, like constipation
- Feeling full while eating
- Discomfort in the pelvis region
- Frequent urge to urinate
Getting an early diagnosis usually means that treatment can be more effective. However, other factors can affect this. These factors include the person’s age and overall health and the type or grade of the cancer cell, as some types are more aggressive than others.
- Older age: Ovarian cancer can occur at any age but is most common in women ages 50 to 60 years.
- Family history of ovarian cancer: Females having close relatives with ovarian cancer might be at an increased risk of the disease.
- Estrogen hormone replacement therapy, especially with long-term use and in large doses.
- Age when menstruation started and ended. Beginning menstruation at an early age or starting menopause at a later age, or both, may increase the risk of ovarian cancer.
Once a woman is diagnosed with ovarian cancer, doctors will determine the degree of its spread. This process is called staging, and it helps in determining the severity of the cancer and the required courses of action.
Ovarian cancer stages range from Stage 1 to 4. Stage 1 and 2 are considered as early-stage whereas Stage 3 and 4 are considered as an advanced-stage. Although each person’s cancer experience is unique, cancers with similar stages tend to have a similar outlook and are often treated in much the same way.
Diagnosis & Treatment
A healthcare professional might typically do the following if symptoms or a normal routine screening proposes that a female may have ovarian cancer:
- Learn about her personal as well as her family medical history
- Examination of the pelvic region
- Imaging tests like a transvaginal ultrasound
- Blood tests or biopsy
That’s why regular screenings should be a top priority for health practices. Ultrasounds use echo patterns and are a good way to tell fluid-filled cysts from solid tumours. They can usually be done quickly and don’t expose patients to radiation. They are very safe with a low risk of patient complications.
BPL’s ultrasound systems are equipped with single crystal technology to deliver impeccable image quality and easy use. Crystal Signature™ transducers to help increase penetration and deliver a high-definition resolution. Stress echo-advanced cardiac software helps ensure accurate diagnoses.
While there is no sure way to prevent ovarian cancer, there may be some ways to reduce your risk of developing it:
- Discussing your risk factors with a medical professional: If you have a family history of breast and ovarian cancers, bring this up with your doctor will reduce your risk.
- Early screening: Ovarian cancer screening may be recommended, starting at age 30 to 35, or 5 to 10 years earlier than the age when the youngest family member was diagnosed.
Ovarian cancer is treatable if a female is diagnosed in the early stages, while some types of an advanced-stage ovarian cancer is also treatable. Medical advances and technologies have drastically improved over the years. Nevertheless, it is equally important to be aware and be informed about the disease. Consulting a medical professional and early screening will definitely help you receive the right and effective treatment.
With state-of-the-art medical technology, accurate screenings have become easier for medical professionals. Learn more about BPL’s range of cutting-edge x-ray and ultrasound solutions by visiting our website.
Note: The content on this page is strictly informational and should not be considered as any form of medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for advice.