What is Ovarian Cancer ? Ovarian cancer treatment - Disease Care

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What is Ovarian Cancer?

This type of cancer usually begins in the ovaries, or fallopian tubes, or in the endometrium. Ovarian cancer may or may not begin in the uterus (the same organ in which you give birth to a baby). Ovarian cancer begins in the ovaries and continues in the endometrium or uterine lining. The difference between ovarian and uterine cancer is that the ovaries are small and make hormones, which are essential for fertility, while the uterus grows and develops an outside lining called endometrium. Although there are several different kinds of ovarian cancer, the most common are high-grade serious ovarian cancer and recurrent ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer is more likely to occur in women who are postmenopausal, African-American, and have a family history of ovarian cancer.

Signs and Symptoms of ovarian cancer

The early stages of ovarian cancer can be asymptomatic , which means they can take years to manifest. According to the American Cancer Society, symptoms usually start with 

  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Bloating, and 
  • Vaginal discharge. The symptoms usually appear when a person’s ovaries are in early stages of dying.
  •  Ovarian cancer can also start with stomach problems, or
  • Constipation. 
  • If you are concerned about your symptoms, it is important to see your doctor as soon as possible. Treatment Although not curable, treatments for ovarian cancer have improved in the last few decades. Symptoms of ovarian cancer include pain in the abdomen or pelvis, weight loss, bowel changes, and fatigue. A doctor will perform an abdominal ultrasound to diagnose and treat the disease.

how ovarian cancer spreads

First, ovarian cancer can start by spreading from the ovary to the fallopian tubes or (if the ovary has been removed) to the uterus. It may also spread from the fallopian tubes to the pelvis, or if the ovary has been removed, to the abdominal cavity, urinary tract, or (if it has not been removed) to the vagina. The spread of ovarian cancer can also occur by skin-to-skin contact or from a portion of the belly fat. You should not worry if the ovarian cancer cells grow and invade fat cells, as the tumor cells are unable to produce hormones and cannot use the energy from fat to grow. Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer In the early stages of the disease, you may not have any symptoms at all.

Risk Factors of ovarian cancer

Women are at a greater risk for ovarian cancer, but no risk factor guarantees cancer.  Women are more likely to develop ovarian cancer before age 60. However, with an estimated average age of diagnosis in the US being 62, women under 40 are also at a greater risk of developing the disease. Regular smoking increases a woman's risk of developing the disease. Women who have a close relative with the disease are at an increased risk for developing the disease themselves.


Diagnosis and Treatment of ovarian cancer

Cervical cancer: 

Diagnosis is possible through the rectal exam, the use of cervical biopsies and the use of Pap smears for the detection of cervical cells in the cervix. The rectal exam is used to find any abnormalities. 

Adenocarcinoma: 

Adenocarcinoma begins in the cells that line the digestive tract and may start in the ovaries, fallopian tubes, the Fallopian tubes or the oviducts. 

Leukemia (B lymphocytes): 

It is a type of blood cancer that affects the white blood cells (leukaemia).In leukaemia, the number of lymphocytes varies depending on the type of cancer. If leukaemia cells are not detected early, they are more likely to spread to other parts of the body.

Prevention Strategies for ovarian cancer

  • The best way to prevent ovarian cancer is through normal medical exams and regular screenings. Having a pelvic exam every year is a great way to screen for ovarian cancer in its early stages. 
  • Using birth control also provides great protection from developing ovarian cancer as well. Identifying risk factors for ovarian cancer is also important. 
  • If your mom or a female family member experienced ovarian cancer, getting tested may not be the best option as your risk of developing the disease is still very low. If you do develop the disease, though, you can be treated with different drugs for a better prognosis

Treatment of ovarian cancer

Ovarian cancer is typically treated with a combination of surgery and chemotherapies.

Treatment of ovarian cancer by Surgery

Ovarian cancer surgery includes the following procedures:

  •  Removing a single ovary during a surgical procedure - Surgical removal of the affected ovary and its fallopian tube may be required for very early stage cancers that haven't spread beyond one ovary. This procedure may allow you to have children in the future.
  • Both ovaries are removed during surgery. In the event that you have cancer in both ovaries, but no other cancerous growths are present, your surgeon may remove both ovaries and both fallopian tubes. If you undergo this procedure, your uterus will remain intact, so you may still be able to conceive using your own frozen embryos or eggs, or with eggs donated by a donor.
  • The ovaries and uterus are removed during surgery. The ovaries, the fallopian tubes, the uterus, nearby lymph nodes, and a fold of fatty abdominal tissue will be removed if your cancer is more advanced or if you don't want to preserve your ability to have children in the future (omentum).
  • Surgery to treat cancer that has spread. You may be prescribed chemotherapy and surgery to remove as much cancer as possible if your cancer is advanced.

Treatment of ovarian cancer by Chemotherapy

In chemotherapy, chemicals are used to kill rapidly growing cells in the body, including cancerous ones. A vein can be injected with chemotherapy drugs, or they can be eaten. Occasionally, the drugs are injected directly into the stomach (intraperitoneal chemotherapy).


It is common to use chemotherapy following surgery in order to eliminate any remaining cancer cells. It can also be used as a preventative measure prior to surgery.

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