Ovarian cancer has become increasingly dangerous to women across the globe. Research shows that out of the 21,000 women diagnosed with the disease, over 13,000 American women die of ovarian cancer every year. Once it attacks the ovaries, the ovarian cells start to grow uncontrollably. Such abnormal growth leads to the development of tumors that spread to other parts of the body.
This type of cancer is hereditary, meaning that it runs in families. Like all cancers, it begins when cells mutate abnormally and multiply quickly.
The nature of ovarian cancer depends on the type of cell where the mutation begins. Women suffer from three types of tumors namely:
These tumors begin in the tissue that covers the ovaries. These are the most common, forming over 90 percent of tumors.
Stromal tumors start in the ovarian tissues that contain the hormone-producing cells. These tumors are rare, affecting only 7 percent of women.
Although there is no known cure for cancer, detecting the disease at an early stage and administering the proper treatments can significantly help to control it. To help identify the cause of your symptoms, the doctor will assess your medical history, undertake a physical exam, and then recommend a series of diagnostic tests. Once a woman is diagnosed with ovarian cancer, the following symptoms usually surface within five months:
Since ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death compared to other gynecological diseases, early detection is critical. One of the main symptoms of the disease is extreme tiredness.
Once the tumors start spreading, they support the development of malignant cells while hampering the division of healthy cells. Healthy cells have mitochondria that transform the sugar into energy in the form of ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) molecules. As cancer develops, the healthy cells begin to die, and the energy levels dip significantly.
Unfortunately, when the number of malignant cells exceeds the healthy cells, death can occur. As such, women should not ignore fatigue as it could be a red flag that signifies a deep-rooted problem. Knowing when to sever a cancerous tumor can be the difference between success and failure.
The typical treatment plans depend on the nature of ovarian cancer, its stage of development, and any other special situations. Doctors perform the following tests to detect the problem:
Women diagnosed with ovarian cancer are likely to develop severe stomach upsets, constipation, and diarrhea. Malignant ovaries produce a fluid that can irritate the lining of the reproductive tract and cause pain. In some cases, the fluid may spread to both sides of the lower abdomen (including the rectum).
When ovarian cancer reaches stage 2, cysts develop in the digestive tract. Stomach upsets and constipation begin when cysts grow on the bowel.
Ovarian cancer can cause a lot of gastrointestinal problems that include irritable bowel syndrome, bloating, and diarrhea. The diagnosis entails:
When unexpected bleeding occurs, it could be a sign of cancer. Considering that both cervical and ovarian cancer can cause bleeding, it’s wise to see a doctor immediately.
In the worst-case scenario, a woman can suffer from both cancers once they spread from the ovaries to the cervix. Vaginal bleeding is an indication that ovarian cancer has reached a critical stage.
Abnormal bleeding begins once the tumors begin to rupture and turn into cysts. You can diagnose the spread of ovarian cancer to the cervix by:
Dyspareunia refers to the pain felt in the pelvis or genital area during or after sex. When ovarian cancer starts to spread into the wall of the vagina, it can cause severe irritations. If you feel a mass or lump, it could be a sign that a tumor is lurking.
Systemic therapies are used in treatment because they can reach all cancer cells anywhere in the body. The following tests will help to detect if ovarian cancer has spread to the vaginal walls:
Ovarian cancer can quickly spread to the urinary system. Once a tumor spreads into the ureters, it can cause blockage and affect the removal of urine from the bladder and the kidneys. While ovarian cancer has no cure yet, there are lots of vaccines that can curb the spread of malignant cells before they turn into tumors.
Your doctor will perform a pelvic exam that entails examining the vagina, uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. A biopsy (removal of malignant tissue for examination) can help to prevent the spread of tumors to the kidney.
A surgeon performs a laparotomy (opening the abdomen) while a pathologist examines the tissues under the microscope. The surgical operations can help to:
Although ovarian cancer is one of the leading causes of gynecological mortalities, the survival rates are equally impressive. Research shows that 80% of women can recover from ovarian cancer if detected and treated before it leaves the ovaries. Fortunately, there are lots of tests, screens, and scans that play a significant role when it comes to diagnosing the disease.