Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cancer among women. Mostly, this kind of cancer arises from the surface i.e. the epithelium of the ovary but may also originate from the egg or supporting cells, called germ cell cancers.
It is a little difficult to diagnose the early signs of ovarian cancer since the signs are absent on women early on. At times it might be that the disease may prevail for months but has not been recognized or diagnosed. Often, by the time the cancer gets diagnosed, the tumor has spread beyond the ovaries. At this stage ovarian cancer is difficult to treat, and often fatal. Research is however on going so that this cancer can be diagnosed and treated at earlier stages to help increase survival.
Less than one-third ovarian cancers are detected before they have spread outside the ovaries. Only 20% women are diagnosed early. Some of the symptoms of ovarian cancer include:-
- A swollen belly area
- Less appetite or feeling full quickly
- Pain in the pelvis or lower abdominal area
- Frequent urination or urinary urgency
- Unusual vaginal bleeding
- Pain in the leg
Some of the less common problems include:-
- Shortness of breath
Women who have a family history of ovarian cancer run higher chances of having ovarian cancer. Treatment in all stages of ovarian cancer may require surgery. Women who have given birth have a less chance of developing ovarian cancer. Women who have had cancer of the breast, uterus or the colon, have a higher chance of developing breast cancer. Ovarian cancer occurs primarily in women over age 55.
To get the best treatment, the grade of the tumor and the extent of the disease must be determined. This includes whether the tumor has reached to the nearby tissues and whether it has spread to other parts and organs of your body. Before treatment, one must know:
- What is the stage of your disease and its spread to other parts of the body?
- What is the best kind of treatment for you?
- What are the expected benefits of each of these kind of treatments?
- What are risks and possible side effects of these kind of treatments?
- Will these treatments affect your normal activities?
- What would be the cost of the treatment? Will your insurance cover the cost?
- Will you be able to conceive and have children after the treatment?
- How often will you have to go for checkups after the treatment?
Recently it has been found out that if performed on a regular basis, a vaginal sonogram with CA125 blood test can help detect ovarian cancer at an early stage. Dr. Robert True for years has offered these tests to help detect ovarian cancer among women. He offers vaginal sonograms for patients who are overly concerned, which, although most of the time not covered by insurance, help give patients peace of mind. Other options are also available, which can provide women the extra comfort and relief to know they are cancer free for that time.