Ovarian Cancer - Symptoms and Causes
The ovaries are small, oval-shaped glands, that found on either side of the uterus. They are the primary female reproductive organs in which the egg cells, called the ova or oocytes, are produced.
In addition to their role in producing ova, the ovaries also have the distinction of being an endocrine gland because they secrete hormones, primarily estrogen and progesterone, that are vital to normal reproductive development and fertility.
Refers to any cancerous growth of cells that forms in the ovaries. The cells multiply quickly and can invade and damage healthy body tissue.
How do you know if you have the disease?
Early-stage ovarian cancer may not have any symptoms. That can make it very difficult to detect. However, some symptoms may include:
- Frequent bloating
- Quickly feeling full when eating
- Difficulty eating
- Frequent urination
- Pain in the abdomen or pelvis
- Discomfort in the pelvic area
Other symptoms of ovarian cancer can include:
- Body pain
- Back pain
- Weight loss
- Pain during intercourse
- Vaginal bleeding
- Change in the menstrual cycle
- Changes in bowel habits, such as constipation, indigestion, etc
- Weight gain and weight loss
What are the complications?
Factors that can increase your risk of ovarian cancer include:
It’s most often diagnosed in older adults and rarely diagnosed in women under age 40.
If you have a history of ovarian, breast, fallopian tube, or colorectal cancer, you are at risk of developing ovarian cancer are higher.
Women with a body mass index over 30 have a higher risk for ovarian cancer.
Women who use birth control have a lower risk of ovarian cancer, but women who use fertility drugs may have at higher risk.
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.
Stage of ovarian cancer
It determined through three factors;
- The size of the tumor
- Detecting whether cancer has invaded tissues into the ovary or nearby tissues
- Finding out if cancer has spread or not to other parts of the body
Once these factors are known, cancer of the ovary has classified into four according to the following criteria:
- Stage 1 The cancer is confined to one or both ovaries
- Stage 2 Cancer is confined to the pelvis
- Stage 3 Cancer has spread into the abdomen
- Stage 4 Cancer has spread outside of the abdomen or into other solid organs.
Type ovarian cancer
Epithelial ovarian cancer
The most common type of ovarian cancer involves several subtypes, including serous carcinoma and mucinous carcinoma.
Stromal tumors. These rare tumors which usually diagnosed at an earlier stage than other ovarian cancers.
Germ cell tumors. These rare ovarian cancers tend to occur at a younger age.
What to Do to Reduce The Risk of Ovarian Cancer?
There’s no sure way to prevent ovarian cancer. But there may be ways to reduce your risk:
Pregnancy: The more full-term pregnancies a woman has had, the lower her risk of ovarian cancer.
Consider taking birth control pills: Ask your doctor if contraceptive pills (oral contraceptives) are right for you. Taking birth control pills reduces the risk of ovarian cancer. But these drugs have risks, so discuss whether the benefits outweigh the risks based on your situation.
Discuss your risks with your doctor: If you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, tell your doctor about it. Your doctor can determine what this means for your own risk
If your primary care doctor suspects that you have ovarian cancer or other symptoms related to the disease, seek medical help of a female reproductive cancers (gynecological oncologist) immediately.