Ovarian cancer symptoms usually goes undetected for several months or years, making it hard to diagnose.
Cancer happens when cells grows abnormally. Cells in cancer transform and rapidly begin to multiply and grow uncontrollably. Masses are formed when these cells grow and multiply; these masses are known as tumors. Cancer is a very dangerous disease. Because of the vast number of cells due to rapid multiplication of cells, healthy cells are being deprived of nutrients and oxygen which is necessary for them to function normally.
Ovarian cancer is when a growth of tumor occurs in one or both ovaries of a woman. The function of the ovaries is to produce egg cells or ova necessary for reproduction. They also produce hormones such as progesterone and estrogen that are essential for reproduction and menstruation. These organs are located in the pelvis or lower abdomen, on either side of the uterus or womb. When an egg cell is produced by the ovaries, they are then release and travels to the uterus through the fallopian tubes, where fertilization by the sperm of the males may or may not occur.
Tumors may be benign or malignant. In ovarian cancer, the tumors being formed are malignant. This means that they have the capability to spread to nearby tissues and organs. These tumors may invade lymph nodes, or organs. They may even enter the bloodstream enabling them to invade organs rich in blood such as the liver. This process is known as metastasis. Ovarian cancer symptoms commonly appear in the stage of metastasis.
Types of Ovarian Tumors
Ovarian tumors are classified according to the type of cell in which the abnormal growth has originated. Epithelial tumors are tumors that arise from the cells on the ovary’s surface. This is the common site of tumor growth in ovarian cancers. These tumors commonly occur in women who have experienced menopause.
A stromal tumor develops with in the cells in the connective tissues that form the ovary. It usually appears in one ovary. Only 5 to 10% of ovarian cancers are of the stromal tumor. It typically happens in women 40-60 years old. This type of tumors is usually treated through surgery or chemotherapy if metastasis has occurred.
Tumors that arise from the cells responsible for egg production or germ cells are known as germ cell tumors. These type off tumors accounts for 15% of all ovarian cancers. The development of these tumors commonly happens in teenaged girls or young women. Prognosis for patients with germ cell tumors is good. In fact, most cases are treated successfully, although permanent infertility may occur.
On the other hand, metastatic tumors may also develop, although the possibility of spreading to nearby tissues is low. The most common sites of metastasis are organs such as: pancreas, stomach, breast, and the colon.
Ovarian Cancer Symptoms
Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer are often hard to identify. They often mimic symptoms of other disease or conditions such as bladder and digestive problems, or they may only manifest during the late stage of the disease. Ovarian cancer symptoms tend to worsen over time and are persistent. Common symptoms include: pain or discomfort in the pelvic area, abdominal fullness, persistent nausea or indigestion, bowel habit changes such as constipation, bladder habit changes, loss of appetite, low back pain, persistent lack of energy and increase in abdominal girth.
If one of these symptoms persist, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible. The doctor may need to conduct a pelvic examination for evaluation. Individuals whose family members have or had breast cancer or ovarian cancer should also consult a doctor if one of these ovarian cancer symptoms occurs.
Ovarian Cancer Diagnosis
Physical examination is one of the examinations needed for ovarian cancer. It is important as it may reveal symptoms such as a swollen abdomen. Pelvic examination is essential as it may aid in revealing abdominal or ovarian mass.
Blood tests such as CA-125 may help indicate the presence of cancer. This test is usually used for women experiencing symptoms as well as diagnosed patients to determine if treatment is effectively.
Other diagnostic exams include: an ultrasound, fluid aspiration in the abdomen, exploratory laparotomy, and CT scan.
Ovarian Cancer Treatment
The choice of treatment for any stage of ovarian cancer is surgery. The type of surgery depends on the location of tumor. Surgery may involve: bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy or the removal of fallopian tubes and ovaries, total hysterectomy or removal of the uterus, or removal of other affected tissues.
The increase the chance of successful treatment, removal, biopsy, or examination of surrounding tissues and lymph nodes in the abdomen and pelvis may be necessary. This is to be done by a specialist such as an OB-Gyn or oncologist.
In cases of severe Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer such during metastasis, a combination of different treatment methods may be utilized. These include surgery with chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Chemotherapy involves the use of strong chemicals given through the veins, or in some cases, directly into the peritoneum. Radiation therapy utilizes high energy rays to hinder multiplication and growth of cancer cells.