The ovaries are sort of two small organs in a woman’s pelvis. They are part of the reproductive system of a female body and are responsible for creating hormones.
Ovarian cancer is cancer that begins in the ovaries or fallopian tubes. Despite significant advances in research, it is seen that more than 75 percent of women are diagnosed when their cancer is at an advanced stage. In the current scenario, there is no effective screening or early detection test for ovarian cancer. Most ovarian cancers do start in the cells which cover the surface of the ovary i.e the epithelium and are known as epithelial ovarian cancers.
Ovarian cancer is often treated as a chronic condition because in most cases it returns after initial treatment is over. For prevention, it is important to consult your health care team about long-term side effects at the time you discuss treatment options.
There are different types of ovarian cancer. They include:
1. Epithelial ovarian cancer is the most common type of ovarian cancer
2. Granulosa tumour of the ovary. Granulosa tumours are a type of stromal tumour
3. Primary peritoneal cancer
4. Fallopian tube cancer
5. Borderline ovarian tumours.
Signs and Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer
In the early stages, ovarian cancer usually shows few symptoms and in most of the cases, there are no symptoms at all. Patients often associate their symptoms with other conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome, or a temporary bladder problem. The symptoms of ovarian cancer can be very similar to symptoms of other more common problems. The most common of them are discussed below:
#1 Abdominal Bloating or Swelling
Symptoms such as bloating, heartburn, expansion of your belly, gas, indigestion and nausea are common. General discomfort experienced in the lower abdomen indicates that something is wrong with ovaries.
#2 Difficulty in Eating or Loss of Appetite
Constant indigestion, gas and other gastrointestinal issues, like heartburn, are the symptoms of ovarian cancer.
Ovarian cancer causes an abrupt loss of appetite. This is because cancer abruptly impacts metabolism and causes problems in the breakdown of food into energy that fuels the body.
#3 Frequent Urination
Women start experiencing urinary problems, such as being overwhelmed by a sudden urge to urinate and peeing more often than usual. This can also include bouts of incontinence which is a complete loss of bladder control before you can get to a bathroom. This problem can gradually worsen over a few weeks.
#4 Uncomfortable or Painful Intercourse
In women with advanced ovarian cancer, pain during intercourse is usually experienced in the right or left side of the pelvis. The most common cause of pain is a lack of vaginal lubrication due to cancer.
#5 Pelvic or Abdominal Pain
Pain in the pelvic area is experienced that feels very different from normal indigestion and other menstrual problems indicate ovarian cancer.
#6 Vaginal Abnormalities or Bleeding
Postmenopausal bleeding is considered to be an early sign of ovarian cancer. Many ovarian cancer patients do experience vaginal bleeding. If any bleeding starts occurring outside menstrual period either during sex or after the completion of menopause you must contact your doctor immediately.
#7 Shortness of Breath
Experiencing shortness of breath or difficulty breathing is also a common sign in women with ovarian cancer.
#8 Changes in menstruation
You can observe changes in menstrual cycles in a person suffering from ovarian cancer due to changes in the reproductive system.
#9 Constipation, Diarrhea, Nausea
Symptoms will be:
Frequent which means that they will usually happen more than 12 times a month
Persistent which indicates that they don’t go away with time
New i.e they may have started in the last year and are not normal for you.
Things to Remember:
Doctors should offer ovarian cancer tests to women who have symptoms as discussed above if they are seen to happen more than 12 times a month or are continued for three weeks. Women who are over 50 and experience symptoms similar to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) should also see their GP for ovarian cancer tests. IBS symptoms include bloating and various changes in bowel habit
All these symptoms can also be caused by other conditions but it’s very important to get them checked by your doctor. The signs discussed must not be ignored and must be diagnosed properly.