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By Pharm. Glorious Attat

What is Ovarian Cancer?

Ovarian cancer is the excessive growth of cells that forms in the ovaries. The cells multiply quickly and can invade and destroy healthy body tissue. It starts in the ovaries; the female reproductive organ responsible for the production of eggs and thereafter spreads to all parts of the body. Detection of ovarian cancer could be difficult as symptoms do not develop until later stages.

What Causes Ovarian Cancer?

The exact cause of ovarian cancer is not yet known. But some people have a slightly higher risk of developing the condition. These risk factors include:

  • Women over the age of 60 are at a high risk of developing Ovarian cancer.
  • A family history of ovarian cancer (others in your biological family have had the disease) or have inherited a gene mutation (BRCA1 or BRCA2) or Lynch syndrome.
  • Never being pregnant or having children later in life.
  • Endometriosis (a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows in other places within your abdomen and pelvic area. Endometriosis can cause painful and heavy periods, as well as fertility issues).
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain
  • Discomfort or bloating.
  • Changes in your eating habits, getting full early and losing your appetite.
  • Vaginal discharge or abnormal bleeding, especially if the bleeding occurs outside of your typical menstrual cycle or after you’ve gone through menopause.
  • Bowel changes, such as diarrhea or constipation.
  • An increase in the size of your abdomen.
  • Frequent urination.

How Does Ovarian Cancer Spread?

Ovarian cancer spreads from the pelvis to the lymph nodes, abdomen, intestines, stomach, chest or liver.


How is Ovarian Cancer Diagnosed?

If your healthcare provider suspects ovarian cancer, they’ll ask about your symptoms and perform a pelvic exam. During the exam, they’ll check for any abnormal growths or enlarged organs.

Additional tests will be recommended, they include:

  • Imaging tests which includes Pelvic ultrasound, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Computed Tomography (CT Scan), Positron Emission Tomography (PET).
  • Blood test
  • Surgical evaluation

What are the Stages of Ovarian Cancer?

There are four stages of ovarian cancer. In this cancer staging system, the least severe is the lowest number. The more serious the condition, the higher the number.

They include:

  • Stage I: In this stage, the cancer cells are found in the ovaries and fallopian tubes.
  • Stage II: In stage II, the cancer cells spread to the uterus and nearby structures like the pelvis.
  • Stage III: In this stage, the cancer cells spread beyond the pelvis to the abdomen. The tumor is up to 2 centimeters in size and spreads beyond the pelvis or within the lymph nodes and then moves outside of your pelvis area and is larger in size
  • Stage IV: Stage IV ovarian cancer is the most severe stage. In this stage, the cancer cells spread to the internal parts of certain organs such as the liver, spleen and the lungs, and the lymph nodes of your groin or into your chest.

Staging is important because it helps your healthcare provider design a tailored treatment plan for you.

How Is Ovarian Cancer Treated?

The goal in treating cancer is to remove the cancer cells from your body as possible. Common ovarian cancer treatments include:

  • Surgery: This typically involves the removal of reproductive organs and any organ that has cancer on it.
  • Chemotherapy: The health service provider may recommend chemotherapy either before or after surgery. Chemotherapy are drugs designed to target and kill cancerous cells.
  • Targeted therapy: This cancer treatment uses drugs to identify and attack cancer cells by changing the way cancer cells grow and divide.
  • Hormone therapy: Some ovarian cancers use hormones to grow. This type of therapy blocks hormones, slowing or stopping the growth of cancer.
  • Radiation therapy: Providers rarely use radiation therapy for treatment of ovarian cancer.

In conclusion, cancer is not a death sentence, early detection is key as it reduces the spread of cancer cells. Pay attention to your health, go for regular checkups, eat healthy, take more fruits and adequate volume of water per day.



1 comment

  • Enobong Ette

    Thank you pharmacist Glorious I really learned a lot.

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