Know the basics
What is ovarian cancer?
Ovarian cancer is the condition which a malignant tumor develops in the ovary, where egg cells as well as female hormones – estrogen and progestogen – are produced. Ovarian cancer, when discovered at the early stages, can be effectively treated. However, it is very difficult to diagnose this disease at the early stages.
How common is ovarian cancer?
Ovarian cancer is quite common in middle-aged and old women. Most fatal cases of ovarian cancer occur in women over 55 years old. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
Know the symptoms
What are the symptoms of ovarian cancer?
The signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer are usually unclear, especially at the early stages. Many patients and even, doctors, can mistake the symptoms of this disease with other ones. In general, the most common signs and symptoms are:
- Bloating and stretching stomach;
- Easily feel full while eating;
- Weight loss;
- Discomfort at pelvis area;
- Changes of bowel movements, for example, constipation.
- Frequent urination
- Other possible symptoms include:
- Change in periods
- Nausea, vomiting, indigestibility, anorexia, flatulence;
- Back pain for no specific reason
- Bleeding in vagina during period
There may be some signs or symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
When should I see my doctor?
Please contact your doctor if you see any signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer. Besides, if there is a family member with ovarian cancer or breast cancer, you should have a checkup frequently for prevention. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.
Know the causes
What causes ovarian cancer?
Today, doctors still have no conclusion for this matter. In general, cancer usually occurs due to a change of genes in our bodies, which causes normal cells to develop into cancer cells. After that, they will widely duplicate and make a tumor. Besides, these cells also attack nearby cells and spread to other organs.
Know the risk factors
What increases my risk for ovarian cancer?
There are many risk factors for this disease such as:
- Have few children. The fewer children a woman has, the higher the chance she can develop ovarian cancer.
- Women who suffered from breast cancer or have a family with a person having breast cancer.
- Women taking estrogen replacement therapy for 5 years or more.
- Old women
Understand the diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is ovarian cancer diagnosed?
Doctors can diagnose ovarian cancer based on current symptoms and clinical diagnosis. Diagnosis using images (such as ultrasound, MRI, CT scan) can also show signs of cancer.
Biopsy is the only way to know whether the tumor at ovaries is benign or malignant. Biopsy is a method of taking a small tissue of the tumor to test under a microscope.
Doctors can also use surgery to know the stages of cancer (stages representing how far cancer has already spread). Sometimes, cancer antigen (CA-125, a substance in blood) can aid the diagnosis.
How is ovarian cancer treated?
Surgery is the most common method for treating ovarian cancer regardless the stages. For early-stage cancer, surgery is the only method; ovary and fallopian tube will be eliminated. Besides, uterus or other organs in the pelvis and stomach will also be eliminated if cancer already spreads there. Next, if necessary, chemotherapy will be used to destroy the leftover cancer cells. Finally, doctors will ask the patients to have a frequent visit to check on their health.
Lifestyle changes & home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage ovarian cancer?
The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with ovarian cancer:
- Keep follow-up doctor appointment to keep track of the disease course as well as your health condition.
- Follow the instruction of your doctor and not use medicines without consulting with your doctor or skipping any of the medicines in your prescription
- Contact your doctor about side effects of the medicines.
- Have a healthy diet with a lot of vegetables, whole grains and reduce the fat content.
- Maintain your weights and exercise.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017
Ferri, Fred. Ferri’s Netter Patient Advisor. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders / Elsevier, 2012. Download version.
Porter, Robert. Kaplan Justin. Homeier Barbara. The Merck manual home health handbook. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc, 2009. Print edition. Page 1573.