Mind & Body
September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month
9/1/2017 12:38:34 PM
Ovarian Cancer

According to the American Cancer Society, ovarian cancer is the 8th most common cancer among women in the United States (excluding non-melanoma skin cancers). However, it is the 5th most common cause of cancer deaths in women. Among the gynecologic cancers (uterine, cervical, and ovarian), ovarian cancer has the highest death rate. Each year, more than 22,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with ovarian cancer and around 14,000 will die. Tragically, the overall five-year survival rate is only 46 percent in most developed countries (it is lower for more advanced stages). But if diagnosis is made early, before the tumor has spread, the five year survival rate is 94 percent.

Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer

In the early stages, ovarian cancer usually has few symptoms; in many cases, there are no symptoms at all. Patients often attribute their symptoms to other conditions, such as premenstrual syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, or a temporary bladder problem. The main difference between ovarian cancer and other possible disorders is the persistence and gradual worsening of symptoms.

Early symptoms of ovarian cancer include pain in the pelvis, pain on the lower side of the body, pain in the lower stomach, back pain, indigestion or heartburn, feeling full rapidly when eating, more frequent and urgent urination, pain during sexual intercourse, and changes in bowel habits, such as constipation.

As ovarian cancer progresses, these symptoms are also possible – nausea, weight loss, breathlessness, fatigue, and loss of appetite.
Bloating, pressure, or pain in the abdomen or pelvis that persists for more than a few weeks are also symptoms of ovarian cancer. If you experience any combination of these symptoms, see a doctor immediately.

Diagnosis is key

If ovarian cancer is suspected, your doctor will generally order some or all of the following tests: Blood test, ultrasound, laparoscopy (looking at the abdomen through a small incision), abdominal fluid aspiration if the patient’s abdomen is swollen, a colonoscopy if the patient has rectal bleeding, CT scan, and MRI. The earlier the cancer is diagnosed, the greater the chance of survival.

Risk factors ovarian cancer

Although we know that ovarian cancer, like many other cancers, is caused by cells dividing and multiplying in an unregulated way, nobody completely understands why cancer of the ovary occurs. However, we know the following risk factors are linked to a higher chance of developing the disease: family history of ovarian or breast cancer, age (most ovarian cancers occur in women over 65), higher number of total lifetime ovulations (for example, from earlier start of menstruation, fewer or no pregnancies, later menopause), infertility treatment, breast cancer, hormone replacement therapy, obesity, and endometriosis. If you identify with any of these risk factors, be especially aware and watchful for symptoms.


Treatment for ovarian cancer consists of surgery, chemotherapy, a combination of surgery with chemotherapy, and, sometimes, radiation. The kind of treatment depends on many factors, including the type of ovarian cancer, its stage and grade, as well as the general health of the patient. 

Like all cancers, early detection of ovarian cancer is critical for a positive outcome. Know the risk factors and possible symptoms, see your doctor regularly, and be diligent to monitor any subtle unexplained changes in your body.

Source: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com, August 2016
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