Ovarian cancer is a malignant tumor originating from ovarian cells. It can affects one or both ovaries. The most common type of ovarian cancer is made of epithelial cells. This cancer can be cured only if it is identified in early stage. Unfortunately, in many women it is diagnosed only when it has advanced and then it can be only partially controlled.
Causes of Ovarian Cancer
Ovarian cancer develops as a consequence of certain changes in DNA of an individual. However, scientists have not been able to explain why this specific change occurs.
The risk for ovarian cancer is confirmed to be higher in women in menopause and those who have never been pregnant.
Presentation of Ovarian Cancer
As it is the case with many other types of cancer even ovarian cancer remains asymptomatic in early stages. It can be only accidentally found during routine pelvic ultrasound. Still, it is reported that some women may complain about some health problems even when the cancer is in early stage. They, for example, may experience frequent and repeated bloating, difficulty eating and feeling full after small portions of food, frequent need to urinate and urgent need to urinate etc.
Progression of the disease is typically accompanied by fatigue, indigestion, constipation, back pain, pain during intercourse and obvious changes in menstrual cycle.
Diagnosing Ovarian Cancer
In order to confirm ovarian cancer, the gynecologist first performs gynecological exam. Then a woman undergoes pelvic ultrasound and imaging studies such as CT scan of the pelvis or MRI of the area. Blood tests may show a significant increase in the level of tumor markers such as CA-125. Definitive confirmation is possible only after the tumor is removed and pathohistologically examined.
Prevention of Ovarian Cancer
There is no way to completely prevent the development of ovarian cancer. However, one may be able to reduce the chances of getting affected by this vicious disease.
It is believed that the risk for development of ovarian cancer can be reduced with birth control pills. Still, birth control pills are associated with some other cancers so this may not be the most convenient solution. One more way of protection is bilateral tubal ligation. The procedure is performed only in women who do not want to have children any more.
By giving birth to one or even more babies a woman may reduce the risk of developing ovarian cancer.
Women who have a family history of ovarian cancer are at higher risk and should have regular gynecological examination. They cannot prevent cancer formation but with regular check-ups the tumor can be timely identified. They may even opt for surgical removal of both ovaries before the cancer occurs.