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Any cancerous growth that starts in the ovary is referred to as ovarian cancer. Cancer of the ovaries is one of the most frequently met types of cancers in women with an aggravating number of patients being diagnosed every year worldwide. Ovarian cancer occurs when certain abnormal cells in the ovary multiply, forming a tumor. The ovaries, small, almond shaped organs situated on both sides of the uterus, produce the female hormones, progesterone and estrogen, being the reproductive glands that are also in charge of producing ova, commonly known as eggs.
A concise definition for cancer could be the out of control growth of certain cells in the body. Cells in almost any area of the body are predisposed to becoming cancerous, when they begin to grow abnormally, and can easily spread around other body parts. Ovarian cancer, just as the name itself indicates, begins in the ovaries. According to current research, it has been concluded that this type of cancer starts in the fallopian tubes and later moves to the actual ovaries. This type of cancers become more severe as it progresses, and it is classified chronologically in four stages. Each individual stage can be furtherly classified in several other categories. This is a short overview of ovarian cancer classification and categorization:
Although warning signs do exist, when it comes to ovarian cancer, the earliest of symptoms can be quite vague and hard to notice, making this type of condition difficult to detect in an early stage. Only 20 percent of all ovarian cancer cases have been spotted early. These are the most common symptoms:
These symptoms will become more pronounced as the disease continues to progress. When women experience these symptoms on the regular, remaining persistent even after regular interventions, seeing a specialist is recommended. Because these signs can be easily described as silent or vague, their persistence is the one that should determine women to carry on cancer investigations.
More than 70 percent of ovarian cancer cases are detected in an advanced stage, due to the subtle or ignored signs present in the early phases. Despite what many women might believe, even routine pelvic exams are often incapable of spotting this condition when it remains in a treatable phase, before it has actually begun to spread beyond the ovaries. For increased chances of survival, the sooner the disease is spotted and treatment starts ,the better. Ovarian cancer is one of the deadliest types of diseases in women, and this is why being keen to the possible presence of symptoms is recommended. For an exact diagnosis of the disease, several screening tests have been made available:
These are the early, preliminary screening techniques, and if they indicate the possible presence of ovarian cancer, they should be followed by biopsy, CT scan or x-ray for the confirmation of results.
Something that increase a person’s chances of contacting a particular disease is considered a risk factor. When it comes to ovarian cancer, there are a few known factors that stand out in particular.
Although women with more risk factors do not necessarily end up suffering from cancer, being aware of them can make a difference in terms of prevention, diagnosis and early treatment.
Along the years, after constant research and medical development, ovarian cancer treatment option have started to become more effective. However, the best of results can be provided when the problem is detected in an early stage. There are a few methods specialists adopt when it comes to ovarian cancer cases, these being the following:
Salpingo-oophorectom – the removal of fallopian tubes and ovaries through surgery
Hysterectomy – the removal of the uterus as well as the affected surrounding tissue
Lymph node dissection – the removal of lymph nodes near the aorta and in the pelvis
Cytoreductive or debulking surgery – the reduction of cancerous tissue, such as from the gallbladder, when the cancer cells have spread beyond the pelvis. This is a technique that will make the follow-up required chemotherapy more effective.
When the stage of the cancer is too advanced for the methods mentioned above to still work, chemotherapy is the next necessary treatment option. This involves the usage of certain medications designed to destroy the cancer cells, as well as preventing them to develop further and to grow. Cytotoxic medication becomes an option when the cancer cells are unable to be removed through surgery. This treatment implies 3 to 6 sessions or cycles, with pauses of 3 or for 4 weeks between them, in order for the body to recover. Target chemotherapy is the recent option used by specialists, which involves the administration of newer medications that also limit damage to normal cells and reduce side effects. This type of chemotherapy can inconclude olaparib and bevacizumab. Although chemotherapy might be the last viable solution for many patients, it can lead to an extensive range of unpleasant side effects, a few of them being anemia, nausea and vomiting, or hair loss.
The most difficult thing for those who have been recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer is to learn how to cope and live with this condition. Because the risks and implications of the disease are various, patients require to adopt the right coping mechanisms and follow a few essential steps in order to make life with ovarian cancer as bearable and normal as possible. Maintaining oneself strong and bearing the side effects of treatment and the life changing repercussions of the disease can be extremely difficult, so being proactive is something that any woman in this situation should focus on. Accessing accurate information on the disease and documentation, learning about the physical and emotional recovery needed, being surrounded by supportive family members and friends are all things that can make a positive difference in a patient’s life. Those who have undergone extreme negative psychological outcomes have chosen to resort to organizations and support groups to make the acceptance of the disease an easier process. Support groups give women the chance to communicate with other people in the same situation as themselves, support each other and receive the moral resources necessary to go through this unpleasant situation more easily, and adopt a slightly more positive state of mind. Learning from personal stories shared by women who are suffering from cancer or has managed to overcome it can be extremely helpful for patients who are still unable to cope with their condition.
Despite the work, dedication and years of studies put into the research of ovarian cancer, specialists have still been unable to discover actual secure and effective ways of preventing this unpleasant health problem. However, there has been evidence that show how women can in fact lower the risks of developing this disease: