The cancer of the ovaries is called as Ovarian cancer. Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of the cells of the body. When this growth occurs in one or both of the ovaries then it is called as ovarian cancer.
Ovaries are an internal organ of female reproductive tract. Every female has two ovaries in her body, one on the either side of the uterus. The ovum need to form a foetus after fertilization originate in the ovary.
Almost 25 thousand women are diagnosed in ovarian cancer in a span of a year in USA. Almost 15,000 of these succumb to death because of it. It is the 8th most common cause of death from any cancer. It mainly affects women in their old age. Commonly women older than 60 years have increased risk of ovarian cancer. The cancer has an increased predisposition in African American women than white population.
The ovarian cancer is common in females who have one of the following risk factor:
- Nulliparous: a woman who has never given birth
- Late pregnancy
- Early menarche: 1st menses in a very young age
- Fertility medications: women exposed to fertility medications have increased risk
- Hormone replacement therapy: women on HRT
- Women with positive BRCA 1 and 2 gene.
The women having given birth, on oral contraceptives, and breast feed the baby have decreased chances of developing ovarian cancer.
It is a silent cancer. Symptoms appear as the cancer spreads to the adjacent organs of the body. In the initial time, the patient may have vague symptoms like:
- Pain in the abdomen and lower abdomen
- Pain while having sex
- Vaginal bleeding after menopause
- Frequent urination and urinary infection
Many of the initial symptoms of ovarian cancer are confused with irritable bowel syndrome.
- Heaviness in the abdomen
- Accumulation of fluid in the abdomen
- Above given symptoms lasting for more than 2 to 3 weeks even after primary treatment.
- Physical examination: it reveals increase in the abdominal girth and presence of fluid in the abdominal cavity.
- Blood test: blood tests for ovarian tumour marker such as CA 125 etc. are done.
- Transvaginal ultrasound examination: it is necessary to diagnose the diagnosis of ovarian cancer.
- CT scan: CT scan is useful in diagnosing the spread of the disease to other pelvic and abdominal organs.
- Laparotomy and biopsy: the abdomen is opened and the internal organs are visualised and inspected. A small piece of the ovary can be taken which is called as biopsy to examine under microscope and see the abnormal cancer growth in the ovary.
- Surgery: the affected ovaries and surrounding infiltrated tissue is removed to attain cancer free margins. The surgeon may remove one or both the ovaries along with the fallopian tubes, and uterus depending upon the spread of the cancer.
- chemotherapy: chemotherapy is given for any residual cancer cells. Sometimes, the chemotherapy is given prior to the surgical procedure to shrink the tumour cells.
- Radiotherapy: some of the ovarian cancers are sensitive to radiation therapy as well.
- Hormonal and immune therapy: these treatment modalities are also found to be helpful in treating ovarian cancer.
However, the incidence of the ovarian cancer has been declining over the past few years.