The ovaries are a part of women’s reproductive system and produce essential reproductive hormones like estrogen, progesterone and eggs. Ovarian cancer is a form of cancer that starts in the ovary’s germ, stromal, or epithelial cells.
Listed as the third most common gynecological cancer in Indian women, ovarian cancer is caused by the uncontrollable growth of ovarian cells. Gradually, these mutated cells accumulate and spread within the pelvis and abdomen. If detected in the initial stages, ovarian cancer is more likely to be treated successfully.
What are the symptoms of ovarian cancer?
In the early stages, ovarian cancer may not cause many signs and symptoms. But as cancer progresses, come common symptoms might appear and even help in detecting cancer early. These common symptoms are:
- Swelling or bloating in the abdomen
- Feeling full even after eating a little
- Weight loss
- Pelvic pain and discomfort
- Problems with digestion
- Frequent urge to urinate
- Abdominal lump
Other symptoms of ovarian cancer might include:
- Weakness & fatigue
- Back pain
- Loss of appetite
- Unusual vaginal discharge, especially after menopause
While these symptoms are a sign of ovarian cancer, it’s a possibility that something else is causing them. Therefore, you should consult with your doctor for prompt evaluation.
What are the various risk factors associated with ovarian cancer?
Factors that can increase the risk of ovarian cancer are:
Screening & diagnosis
- Ageing as ovarian cancer is more common in women over 50
- Inherited genetic mutations passed down from parents to the child can also cause a small percentage of ovarian cancers.
- Estrogen hormone therapy can increase the chances of developing ovarian cancer
- The family history of one or more family members with ovarian cancer puts you at risk of developing ovarian cancer.
- Early menstruation or late menopause have been associated with the development of ovarian cancer.
To start the diagnosis, the doctors check the patient’s medical history and perform a physical exam. The physical exam can include a pelvic and rectal examination to determine the cause of the symptoms. If they suspect ovarian cancer, they may order multiple tests and screening, including:
- Pelvic exam – They will perform a transvaginal examination to examine the patient’s external genitalia, vagina and cervix.
- Imaging tests – They will order an ultrasound or CT scan of the abdomen and pelvis to determine the ovaries’ size, shape and structure.
- Blood tests – To check for cancer markers that point towards the prevalence of ovarian cancer.
- Biopsy surgery –If the doctor isn’t sure about the diagnosis, they will surgically remove one of the ovaries and test it for the signs of cancer.
Ovarian cancer treatment depends on several factors, such as cancer extent, stage, and whether you want to have children in the future. These treatments may include:
Our surgical oncologists use various approaches to extract the tumour and the affected organs to ensure cancer doesn’t return in the future. These surgical approaches may include the following:
- To treat early-stage cancer contained within an ovary, our surgeons will remove the affected ovary and its fallopian tube. It helps to preserve the patient’s ability to conceive in the future.
- To treat cancer that has affected both ovaries, our surgeons will remove both ovaries and fallopian tubes. It keeps the uterus intact, so the patient can conceive using frozen eggs or embryos.
- To treat cancer that has spread beyond ovaries, our surgeons will remove the uterus along with the ovaries and the fallopian tubes.
Our oncologists will administer anti-cancer drugs to target rapidly-growing cancerous cells. It can be given orally or intravenously in combination with other treatments to yield maximum results.