The ovaries are 2 female reproductive organs located in the pelvis, one on each side of the uterus. They produce eggs and the female hormones which control the development of female body characteristics and regulate the menstrual cycle and pregnancy. Ovarian cancer is a disease of unknown cause.
What are the most common risk factors for ovarian cancer?
Ovarian cancer is most common in menopausal women (over 50 years of age). Rarely, ovarian cancer can run in families. Sometimes infertility or having a first child after the age of 30 is a risk factor .Also personal history of breast or colon cancer is a risk factor.
What are the symptoms of ovarian cancer?
The symptoms may resemble other conditions or medical problems so consult your physician for diagnosis. The following are the most common symptoms of ovarian cancer: general discomfort in the lower abdomen, weight loss, diarrhea or constipation, or frequent urination, bleeding from the vagina or build up of fluid around the lungs, which may cause shortness of breath.
How is ovarian cancer diagnosed?
Ovarian cancer may be discovered by chance during a routine gynecological examination or it may be discovered because the tumor has grown so large that you can feel it, or because it is pressing on the bladder or intestines.
Diagnosis includes a medical history and physical exam, including a pelvic exam to feel the vagina, rectum, and lower abdomen for masses or growths. The only certain means of diagnosis are either an operation or a biopsy. Ultrasound examination is a very useful tool since it enables a doctor to identify an ovarian tumor and certain features that might make him or her suspect a cancer.
How can ovarian cancer be prevented?
- healthy diet (high in fruits, vegetables, grains, and low in saturated fat)
- birth control pills
- pregnancy and breast feeding
How to treat ovarian cancer?
The treatment depends upon whether the cancer has spread to involve other tissues in the pelvis or not. It also depends on the general health of the patient and permission for operations.
– surgery, including:
- Surgery to remove the uterus, both Fallopian tubes and ovaries.
- Pelvic lymph node dissection – removal of some lymph nodes from the pelvis.
- Chemotherapy – the use of anticancer drugs to treat cancerous cells.
- Radiotherapy is aimed at destroying tumor cells that the gynecologist cannot see.