Fighting Back Against Ovarian Cancer
Having ovarian cancer is not an enjoyable experience, but with the right information and resources, you can fight back against this disease. It’s also important to note that many women who develop ovarian cancer don’t suffer from it forever, so there are plenty of treatment options to choose from.
Benign vs. malignant
During menopause, women’s ovaries may develop benign or malignant tumors. Benign tumors are characterized by slow growth and do not spread outside the ovary. Benign ovarian tumors may be treated with surgery to remove part or all of the ovary. Surgical treatment can also include chemotherapy to kill cancer cells.
Malignant ovarian tumors are cancerous, and they can develop in ovaries, fallopian tubes, lymph nodes, or other organs. They can cause symptoms such as abnormal bleeding, pain, bowel changes, loss of appetite, and urinary symptoms. If left untreated, malignant ovarian tumors may also spread to other parts of the body, such as the bones and brain.
The most common types of ovarian cancer are epithelial ovarian cancers, which starts in the cells that line the ovary. Serous carcinomas make up 52 percent of all epithelial ovarian tumors. The other types are germ cell tumors, which start in the cells that produce eggs.
Germ cell tumors are less common than malignant tumors, but they can occur. They are most common in women during their reproductive years. They can also occur in men and develop in the central nervous system, stomach, and colon. Benign germ cell tumors are called mature cystic teratomas.
Benign ovarian tumors are usually treated with surgery and are not usually life-threatening. They can be treated conservatively, which can help avoid unnecessary costs and morbidity. Surgical treatments for benign tumors are aimed at destroying the tumor and minimizing damage to healthy cells.
During surgery, a gynecologist may perform debulking surgery to remove part of the ovary. The goal is to get rid of all cancer. The ovary can be removed with laparotomy, which is a larger incision. Other cancerous organs can also be removed.
Germ cell tumors may begin in the uterine wall, fallopian tube, or reproductive cells. They can develop into malignant tumors if the primary tumor ruptures or if there is another tumor elsewhere in the body.
There are several tests to diagnose ovarian cancer. Blood tests look for a substance called CA-125, which can indicate cancer. These tests are often used in combination with other tests to diagnose ovarian cancer.
Symptoms of ovarian cancer can be very subtle and easy to miss. They can mimic common digestive problems, making it difficult to distinguish between them. Getting a diagnosis early can increase the chances of survival. However, ovarian cancer has a very low survival rate. A woman’s lifetime risk of developing the disease is one in 78.
Ovarian cancer symptoms can include pain and swelling in the abdomen, bloating, and loss of appetite. Depending on the stage of cancer, symptoms can vary in size, duration, and severity.
The most common symptom of ovarian cancer is bloating. Most women report having bloating before and after their menstrual period, or after eating a large meal. Bloating can also occur when wearing fitted clothing. If you have to bloat, be sure to discuss the problem with your healthcare provider.
Other ovarian cancer symptoms include bleeding or abnormal bleeding, urinary symptoms, changes in appetite, and loss of weight. Women with ovarian cancer may also experience changes in their bowel habits, such as diarrhea.
Women can have a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer if they have certain genetic mutations. These mutations cause the cells to multiply faster than normal. The most common genes associated with ovarian cancer are BRCA1 and BRCA2. If you are concerned about your genetic makeup, ask your doctor to perform a test.
Other ovarian cancer symptoms include abdominal swelling, pelvic pain, and urinary symptoms. Some women experience abdominal pain that is felt in just one side of their abdomen.
If you have abdominal pain that lasts more than two weeks, be sure to see your healthcare provider. The pain should get worse over time, and it should be more frequent. Symptoms of ovarian cancer should also become more obvious as the disease progresses.
Women with ovarian cancer may need to undergo surgery, chemotherapy, or laparoscopy. These procedures aim to remove the cancerous cells. The extent of cancer will also determine how much tissue needs to be removed. A laparotomy is a large incision made in the abdominal wall. The surgery removes the ovaries and other cancerous organs.
Identifying early signs of ovarian cancer is a critical step in preventing it from becoming a life-threatening disease. Ovarian cancer begins when cells in the ovary begin to divide uncontrollably. Cancer may also begin to spread to other parts of the body. However, many ovarian cancers are treatable.
Various types of screening tests can help detect ovarian cancer before it becomes serious. These tests include blood tests, scans, and pelvic exams. Depending on the type of cancer and its stage, the treatments will vary.
Genetic tests can reveal faulty genes that increase your risk of ovarian and breast cancer. Knowing these gene errors can help you decide on the best treatment plan. These tests are also important for women who have a strong family history of the disease.
Pelvic ultrasound is a test that uses sound waves to make a picture of the inside of the vagina. This test can help diagnose the presence of cysts within the ovaries and cancerous growths.
Ovarian cancers are usually treated by surgery. Surgery aims to remove as much cancer as possible. Sometimes, chemotherapy is used to target cancerous cells. This type of treatment is usually followed by radiation therapy.
Surgery is usually performed by a specialist team. In addition to removing the cancerous growth, surgery may also involve removing the ovary or fallopian tubes. Some patients may require chemotherapy before surgery.
Ovarian cancer may progress from one stage to another in as little as a year. Some cases of ovarian cancer are diagnosed at an early stage and may not have any symptoms. Other patients may have symptoms that appear later in the disease’s progression. However, early detection allows patients to undergo treatment that has the best chance of successful treatment.
There are four stages of ovarian cancer. Stage IA is when the cancer is confined to the ovaries. Stage IV means cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
Symptoms of ovarian cancer are similar to those of other types of cancer. These include abnormal bleeding, pain in the abdomen, changes in bowel habits, and loss of appetite. These symptoms can be hard to detect early. However, if you experience persistent symptoms, it is important to discuss them with your healthcare provider.
Fortunately, treatment options for ovarian cancer are available. However, it is important to know that some treatments may have side effects. Some women may even need to undergo chemotherapy after surgery.
For women who have ovarian cancer in its early stages, surgery may be a good option. It can help to eliminate the tumor and also to remove the uterus. It also helps the gynecological oncologist to determine if cancer has spread.
Surgery may also involve removing the fallopian tubes and the ovaries. This is called a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. The surgeon also removes the uterus and lymph nodes.
Chemotherapy is a treatment for ovarian cancer that can be administered orally, through a thin tube inserted into a vein, or through a catheter placed into the abdomen. It enters the bloodstream and slows the growth of the tumor. It can also help to relieve symptoms, such as bleeding and pain.
Other treatments include radiation therapy and targeted therapy. These treatments work to destroy cancer cells without damaging healthy cells. Targeted therapy works by activating cells in the body to carry drugs directly to cancer cells.
Targeted therapy can be given in conjunction with chemotherapy. Some of the targeted drug treatments available include PARP inhibitors and bevacizumab. Other therapies are under development.
Hormone therapy can also be used to treat ovarian stromal tumors. This therapy blocks hormone that causes the tumors to grow. Some patients may also need to undergo genetic counseling.
If ovarian cancer has spread to other parts of the body, radiation therapy may be used to relieve pain or other problems. It is usually given at the hospital or clinic and takes a few minutes for each treatment.
For women who have relapsed, chemotherapy may be used to treat cancer. It may be given before surgery or after surgery. It is also possible for a patient to be placed on a clinical trial.
There are also a variety of support groups for ovarian cancer patients. These groups can be helpful in managing symptoms, supporting the patient and family, and helping with pain management.
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