Ovarian cancer is a form of cancer that originates in ovaries. There is a pair of ovaries in the reproductive system of woman, one on either side of uterus. The size of an ovary is same as the size of an almond. The function of ovary is to produce eggs as well as secretion of hormone like progesterone and oestrogen; most of the times, it gets difficult to detect ovarian cancer until and unless it spreads to the abdomen and within pelvis as well. The cancer becomes highly fatal when it reaches to its last stage. Though, early stage detection of ovarian cancer and its treatment at early stage has good prognosis.
Signs and Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer
There are rarely any symptoms of ovarian cancer in early stages. The symptoms which are present at even late stages are mistaken for other benign diseases like irritable bowel or constipation. There are following symptoms of ovarian cancer:
- Bloating or swelling of abdomen
- Fluid accumulation in the abdomen
- Loss of hunger i.e. satisfaction with even eating less amount of food
- Loss of weight
- Discomfort or pain in the pelvis region
- Difficulty in bowel movements leading to constipation.
- Frequent urination
Causes of Ovarian Cancer
The cause of ovarian cancer is still unknown. It is believed that mutation in genes leads to transformation of normal cells into cancerous cells. There is uncontrolled growth of these cancerous cells which leads to the formation of tumour. This uncontrolled growth also leads to the invasionto nearby tissue and spreading to other parts of the body.
Risk factors of Ovarian Cancer
The factors that lead to the increase chances of ovarian cancer are:
- Age: ovarian cancer is more common in women of age 50-60 mainly after menopause.
- Genetic mutation: ovarian cancer can also be cause by the mutated genes which are inherited. Family history also plays its role in increasing the risk of ovarian cancer. The genes named BRCA1 (breast cancer gene 1) AND BRCA2 (breast cancer gene 2) are responsible for increasing the risk of ovarian cancer.
- Estrogen hormone replacement therapy: long term usage of this treatment leads to increase risk of ovarian cancer.
- Smoking: higher rate of smoking in women also increases the risk.
- Non pregnancy: if a women is never being pregnant in her fertility period can increase the risk.
- Use of IUD’s: use of contraceptive devices may also increase the risk.
- PCOD: Polycystic Ovarian Disease also increases the risk of ovarian cancer.
Various stages of Ovarian Cancer
Stage I. Cancerous cells are found in either of two ovaries or both.
Stage II. Invasion of cancerous cells to other parts of the pelvis.
Stage III. Spread of cancer to the abdomen.
Stage IV. Metastasis- invasion to other body organs.
Treatment of Ovarian Cancer
The combination of surgery and chemotherapy is the line of treatment for ovarian cancer. The chemotherapy drugs are used after surgery to kill any residual cancerous cells to prevent recurrence or metastasis. In case of last stage ovarian cancer, chemotherapy can be given in pre-surgical period.