Who Is At Risk For Ovarian Cancer
- Age: Risk increases for women over age 50, but most cases are diagnosed at age 65 or above.
- Obesity: Increases lifetime risk for ovarian cancer by about 2%.
- Use of talcum powder in the genital area: Increases lifetime risk by about 0.5%.
- Endometriosis: Causes cell changes throughout the reproductive organs and slightly increases the risk for ovarian cancer.
- Hormone replacement therapy: 5 years of HRT results in 1 additional per 1,000 HRT users.
- Smoking: Increases the risk of ovarian cancer by approximately 3%.
- Diabetes: Increases your risk of developing ovarian cancer by 20%-25%.
Is Your Abdominal Pain Leading To Signs Of Ovarian Cancer
Ovarian cancer is a cancer that initially affects the ovaries, a pair of female reproductive organs that produce eggs and are located on either sides of the uterus.
According to American Cancer Society, ovarian cancer is the eighth most common cancer that occurs in women.
It is estimated that approximately twenty-five thousand new cases of ovarian cancer is rising yearly, in the United States. It is commonly known as silent disease because you will not exhibit the symptoms of ovarian cancer unless it is in very advanced stage.
Thus, there will be delay in diagnosis. Hence the ovarian cancer is with very high mortality rate. The ovarian cancer is so deadly that it occurs in one out of every sixty women.
Remember that ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of tumor deaths in women. Experts also believe that seventy-six percent of women will survive for one year after diagnosing with this disease.
Ovarian cancer occurs mostly in women who pass menopause stage. As you become older, your possibility of getting ovarian cancer increases. However, knowing and having more information about the signs of ovarian cancer can make it easier for you to diagnose and treat successfully in early stages.
Remember that these signs are not always due to ovarian cancer. So, if you find any of these signs that are abnormal and if it last for more than a week, then right away consult your doctor so that you can diagnose the condition early enough.
How Quickly Does It Develop
Ovarian cancers grow and develop at different rates. Some types may grow very quickly.
According to the University of Kansas Cancer Center, ovarian cancer can progress quickly. It can go from early stages to advanced stages within a year.
Malignant epithelial carcinoma, which is the most common type of ovarian cancer, can spread within a matter of weeks to months.
Ovarian cancer symptoms can be unclear and difficult to detect before the cancer spreads. Early stage cancers may have no symptoms at all.
If they do occur, some ovarian cancer symptoms may include:
There are four stages of ovarian cancer. Doctors break each stage down into substages depending on where the tumor appears and its size.
- Stage 1: The cancer has not spread outside the ovaries.
- Stage 1A: The cancer is limited to one ovary. There is no tumor on the external surfaces.
- Stage 1B: The cancer is limited to both ovaries. There is no tumor on the external surfaces.
- Stage 1C: The cancer is limited to one or both ovaries, but there is a tumor on the surface of one or both ovaries.
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Signs And Symptoms Of Ovarian Cancer
Ovarian cancer may cause several signs and symptoms. Women are more likely to have symptoms if the disease has spread, but even early-stage ovarian cancer can cause them. The most common symptoms include:
- Pelvic or abdominal pain
- Trouble eating or feeling full quickly
- Urinary symptoms such as urgency or frequency
These symptoms are also commonly caused by benign diseases and by cancers of other organs. When they are caused by ovarian cancer, they tend to be persistent and a change from normal for example, they occur more often or are more severe. These symptoms are more likely to be caused by other conditions, and most of them occur just about as often in women who dont have ovarian cancer. But if you have these symptoms more than 12 times a month, see your doctor so the problem can be found and treated if necessary.
Others symptoms of ovarian cancer can include:
- Changes in a woman’s period, such as heavier bleeding than normal or irregular bleeding
- Abdominal swelling with weight loss
Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.
Goff, B. A., Mandel, L. S., Drescher, C. W., Urban, N., Gough, S., Schurman, K. M., Patras, J., Mahony, B. S. and Andersen, M. R. , Development of an ovarian cancer symptom index. Cancer, 109: 221-227.
Referral To A Gynaecological Oncologist
If your assessment and investigations suggest ovarian cancer is a possibility, ask your doctor for an immediate referral to a gynaecological oncologist.
Gynaecological oncologists are specialists gynaecologists who treat cancers such as ovarian cancer. It has been shown that women with ovarian cancer who are treated by a gynaecological oncologist have better outcomes.
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Ovarian Cancer Side Effects And Symptoms
Ovarian cancer can be a deadly cancer as its generally hard to detect it early. It is usually detected in later stages when there is no cure for it. In the past, ovarian cancer was called the silent killer because many women didnt experience any signs or symptoms until the disease had spread to other organs.
The symptoms of ovarian cancer are very common and similar to many other illnesses which tend to come and go on their own. Therefore, distinguishing the symptoms of ovarian cancer from other women problems is very difficult, and its easy to overlook the early symptoms of ovarian cancer by women.
While the symptoms of ovarian cancer can be hard to notice and differentiate from other conditions, but ovarian cancer isnt completely silent. Most women feel changes such as bloating, changed in bowel movements, an increased urge to urinate. One of the most common sign of an ovarian cancer is pain. Women usually feel pain in the stomach, side, or in the back.
Some of the early symptoms and warning signs of ovarian cancer may include:
- Pressure and pain in the abdomen
- abnormal bloating and fullness after eating
- difficulty eating
- Increase and more frequent urination
- An increased urge to urinate
Ovarian cancer can also show some other symptoms in the later stages, such as:
Once Known As The Silent Killer There Actually Are Common Symptoms
Ovarian cancer is notoriously difficult to detect early.
Only 20 percent of cases are diagnosed in the early stages, when treatment tends to be most effective.
The majority of cases are diagnosed in later stages, when the cancer has spread to other organs.
Historically, ovarian cancer was thought to be the silent killer because it developed without announcement, and before you know it, the patient had late-stage cancer, Dr. Carmel Cohen, a professor emeritus of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive science at The Mount Sinai Hospital, told Healthline.
Many doctors believed that the disease produced no early symptoms.
This began to change in the late 1990s, when a growing body of research found evidence of early warning signs.
Those early warning signs dont always appear, but when they do, they most often include bloating, abdominal pain, feeling full quickly, and urinary tract symptoms.
Other potential symptoms include fatigue, nausea, constipation, menstrual changes, pain during sex, and back pain.
The symptoms of ovarian cancer are more commonly associated with less serious conditions, such as indigestion.
As a result, patients dont always take them seriously.
Their doctors might not suspect ovarian cancer either.
A previous study from Target Ovarian Cancer found that 41 percent of women visited their doctor at least three times before being referred for cancer tests.
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Nerve Block To Control Ovarian Cancer Pain
Another option for pain relief is a nerve block based on where the pain from ovarian cancer is located. Pain medicine is injected directly into a nerve or into the space around the spine for fast and long-lasting relief from pain due to ovarian cancer.
Sometimes, doctors also recommend antidepressants, anti-seizure medicines, and steroids for pain relief. You should talk to your doctor to know which pain reliever is best for your kind of pain.
If the pain is too severe and medicine doesnt help, the last option is to cut nerves during surgery so you no longer feel the pain in those areas.
What Are The Chances Of Having Ovarian Cancer
It is estimated that ovarian cancer affects over 22,000 American women this year alone. Surgery and chemotherapy are typically used to treat ovarian cancer.
Only around 19 percent of ovarian cancer is diagnosed in the early stages, according to the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition . The chances of a woman getting ovarian cancer in her lifetime are about 1 in 75, and her lifetime chance of ovarian cancer being fatal is 1 in 100, according to the American Cancer Society.
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What Should I Do If I Have Ovarian Cancer Or Ovarian Cyst Symptoms Or Signs
When to Call a Doctor If You Have Ovarian Cancer Symptoms and Signs
If you are experiencing abdominal pain, distension, or bloating that is not explained by simple constipation, lactose intolerance, or another harmless condition, call a doctor or other healthcare professional right away.
If you are older than 40 years or have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, these symptoms should be attributed to constipation or other conditions only after a doctor has ruled out the possibility of ovarian cancer.
When To See Your Doctor
Detecting ovarian cancer early leads to the best outcomes. You should visit your doctor if you notice:
- increased abdominal size or persistent abdominal bloating
- abdominal or pelvic pain
- feeling full after eating a small amount
- needing to urinate often or urgently.
And these symptoms
- are a change from what is normal for you
- persist for more than 2 weeks
- and there is no other explanation for you having these symptoms.
Further information about ovarian cancer can be found at:
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What Are The Most Common Symptoms Of Ovarian Cancer
The are typically vague and early-stage ovarian cancer has no symptoms. This means that ovarian cancer often goes undiagnosed until its later stages, when the cancer is more likely to have spread.
Common symptoms of ovarian cancer include:
- Unexplained and frequent bloating
- Menstrual changes
- Weight loss
When ovarian cancer recurs, symptoms are the same as those above. If you have a history of ovarian cancer and are experiencing any of the symptoms noted, contact your healthcare provider immediately.
Cancers Linked To Radiation Treatment
Lung cancer: The risk of lung cancer is higher in women who had radiation therapy after a mastectomy as part of their treatment. The risk is even higher in women who smoke. The risk does not seem to be increased in women who have radiation therapy to the breast after a lumpectomy.
Sarcoma: Radiation therapy to the breast also increases the risk of sarcomas of blood vessels , bone , and other connective tissues in areas that were treated. Overall, this risk is low.
Certain blood cancers: Breast radiation is linked to a higher risk of leukemia and myelodysplastic syndrome . Overall, though, this risk is low.
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How Is Ovarian Cancer Diagnosed
If you experience some of the symptoms of ovarian cancer for more than two weeks, and they are a change from what is normal for you, ask your doctor about the possibility of ovarian cancer.
Your doctor will initially ask questions about your symptoms, past health history and family health history. A physical examination will then be conducted, including a pelvic examination to check your vulva, vagina and cervix, and a manual vaginal examination to check your uterus and pelvis.
If no other cause can be determined for your symptoms, a transvaginal ultrasound examination can be performed. This is a test for identifying abnormalities in the ovaries and in the pelvis.
Other imaging tests such as computerised tomography and positron emission tomography scans can be used to check for cancer and other abnormal tissue.
Your doctor may also order a simple blood test called a CA-125 , but this test is not always reliable.
Cancers Linked To Treatment With Tamoxifen
Taking tamoxifen lowers the chance of hormone receptor-positive breast cancer coming back. It also lowers the risk of a second breast cancer. Tamoxifen does, however, increase the risk for uterine cancer . Still, the overall risk of uterine cancer in most women taking tamoxifen is low, and studies have shown that the benefits of this drug in treating breast cancer are greater than the risk of a second cancer.
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Why Does Ovarian Cancer Cause Pain
The tumor puts pressure on your organs, nerves, bones, and muscles. This pressure causes pain. The more the cancer spreads and the larger the tumor is, the more severe and consistent the pain becomes. In advanced stages such as in stage 3 and 4 ovarian cancers, pain often is the main symptom of ovarian cancer.
Sometimes, the ovarian cancer pain can develop as a result of treatments that are given to control the growth of the tumor. Such treatments that can cause pain as a side effect may include such as chemotherapy, surgery, or radiation therapy. Chemotherapy can cause pain in the arms, legs, hands, and feet. Chemotherapy may also leave painful sores around your mouth.
Surgery for ovarian cancer can cause pain and soreness that can stay for up to a few weeks after the procedure. Treatment-related pain however improves after the therapy is stopped unlike the cancer pain which worsens with time.
What Reduces Your Risk Of Ovarian Cancer
Just as there are factors that increase your risk, there are also factors that can reduce the risk of developing ovarian cancer. These include:
- having children
- having taken combined hormone contraceptives
- surgical removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes.
If you are concerned about your risk, talk to your doctor.
There is currently no proven method of preventing ovarian cancer. Even removing the ovaries of a woman with a strong family history does not always prevent cancer with a very small risk of it occurring in the lining of the abdomen.
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Ovulation And Ovarian Cancer
A woman’s risk of ovarian cancer seems to increase with the number of times over her life that she ovulates.
During ovulation, an egg is released from an ovary and swept into a fallopian tube and recent research suggests that the fluid released from the ovary along with the egg contains growth factors and other molecules that damage the DNA of the nearby fallopian tube cells, said Dr. Ronny Drapkin, an assistant professor of pathology at Harvard Medical School. Furthermore, the evidence shows that the deadliest ovarian cancers, called high-grade serous cancers, actually begin when the cells at the ends of the fallopian tubes, not cells in the ovaries themselves, turn cancerous.
These findings explain the long-held observation that anything that lowers the number of times a woman ovulates also lowers her ovarian cancer risk, Drapkin said. Pregnancy, breast-feeding and birth control pills all temporarily halt ovulation, and studies have linked all of those factors to a decreased risk of ovarian cancer.
How Common Is Ovarian Cancer
Ovarian cancer is the eighth most commonly diagnosed cancer in women in Australia. Every year around 1800 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer in Australia.
Even though ovarian cancer is less common than lung cancer or breast cancer, it is important to be aware of its signs and symptoms as early diagnosis improves treatment outcomes. If a woman is diagnosed early, while the cancer is localised , survival rate is over 90%. However, only 29% of women diagnosed at a late stage will survive for more than five years.
Currently there are no reliable early detection tests for ovarian cancer and therefore no screening programs are available.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Ovarian Cancer
Unfortunately, ovarian cancer can develop, become quite large and spread throughout the abdomen before it causes any symptoms. This can make early detection difficult. When you experience symptoms, they can include:
- Having pain, discomfort or bloating in your abdomen and pelvis.
- Experiencing changes in your eating habits, getting full early and losing your appetite. You may experience bloating and belching, sometimes even stomach pain.
- Having abnormal bleeding or vaginal discharge and, more often, changes in your bowels, such as diarrhea and constipation.
- Feeling any unusual lumps or finding increase in the size of your abdomen.
- Having urinary frequency or urinary urgency.
How Long Can Ovarian Cancer Go Undetected
Ovarian cancer can go undetected for years without revealing its existence. Unfortunately, ovarian cancer symptoms are vague and at this time there is no accurate way to identify the disease in its earliest stages. As a result, ovarian cancer often goes undetected until it has spread throughout the pelvis and abdomen. At this later stage, the disease is more challenging to treat. The earlier that ovarian cancer is detected, the better the outcome.
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