Ovarian cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the ovaries which are the parts of the female reproductive system and is one of the most common types of cancer in women.
Ovarian cancer mainly affects women over the age of 50, but it can sometimes affect younger women. Since the symptoms aren’t always easy to recognize It can often goes undetected until it has spread within pelvis and abdomen. At the late stages, ovarian cancer is more difficult to treat; however, when it is confined to the ovary it is more likely to be treated successfully.
Common signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer may include:
- Feeling constantly bloated
- Abdominal (belly) swelling with weight loss
- Feeling full quickly when eating
- Discomfort in the pelvis area
- A frequent need to urinate
- Fatigue (extreme tiredness)
- Pain during sex
The exact cause of ovarian cancer is still unknown. However, doctors identified some factors that may increase a woman’s risk of getting it, such as:
- Older age, being over 50 years of age.
- Having a family history of ovarian cancer, breast cancer, or colorectal cancer
- Estrogen hormone replacement therapy, especially with long-term use and in large doses.
- Being overweight or obese
- Having children later or never having a full-term pregnancy
If you have any signs or symptoms that you worry, you should see your doctor
Your doctor may:
- ask about your symptoms and general health
- check for any swelling or lumps in your tummy
- carry out an internal examination
- ask about ovarian or breast cancer history in your family
- can take blood sample
The treatment for ovarian cancer depends on how far it has spread, your general health and whether you’re still able to have children.
The most common treatments are surgery and chemotherapy
Almost all women with ovarian cancer need surgery. The aim is to remove all of the cancer or as much of it as possible.
Surgery usually involves removing:
- both ovaries and the fallopian tubes
- the womb (a hysterectomy)
- a layer of fatty tissue in the tummy (the omentum)
Chemotherapy (chemo) is the use of anti cancer (cytotoxic) drugs to treat cancer. Most women with ovarian cancer have it in addition to surgery.
It may be used:
- after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells
- before surgery to shrink the cancer and make it easier to remove
- if ovarian cancer comes back after initial treatment