What is Ovarian Cancer?
What is Ovarian Cancer? Ovarian cancer is a cancer that grows on the ovaries. This disease occupies the seventh position among the most common types of cancer affecting women. Each year, there are about 250,000 cases of ovarian cancer worldwide, which causes 140,000 deaths per year.
This cancer can appear in all age groups, but generally occurs in women who have entered menopause or aged over 50 years.
Types of Ovarian Cancer
Ovarian cancer is classified into 3 types, based on the initial location of cancer progression.
- Epithelial tumors, cancer cells appear on the tissue of the ovaries. This is the most common type of ovarian cancer.
- Stromal tumors, cancer appears in the layer where the cells are located hormone-producing. This type of cancer is rare. Only about 7 out of 100 cases of ovarian cancer are of this type.
- Germ cell tumor, cancer develops in egg-producing cells. This type of ovarian cancer tends to occur in young women.
Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer
Ovarian cancer rarely causes symptoms in the early stages. If any, the symptoms resemble constipation or symptoms of irritable bowel. Therefore, ovarian cancer is usually only detected when the cancer has spread in the body.
Some of the symptoms commonly experienced by people with ovarian cancer are:
- The stomach always feels bloated.
- Swelling of the abdomen.
- Stomach ache.
- Weight loss.
- Get full fast.
- Changes in bowel habits, such as constipation (difficult bowel movements).
- Increased frequency of urination.
- Pain during intercourse.
Causes and Risk Factors of Ovarian Cancer
Just like most cancers, the cause of ovarian cancer is also not known for certain. There are several factors that may increase the risk of a woman to get this cancer. These factors include:
- Age. Ovarian cancer tends to occur in women aged 50 years and over.
- Genetic. The risk for ovarian cancer will increase if you have family members with ovarian cancer or breast cancer. Similarly, in women who have the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which are inherited genetic mutations.
- Estrogen hormone replacement therapy (Esterogen Hormone Replacement Therapy), especially when done in the long term and with high doses.
- Suffered from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
- Never get pregnant.
- Being overweight or obese.
- Experiencing the menstrual cycle before the age of 12 years and menopause after the age of 50 years.
- Underwent fertility therapy.
- Using IUD contraceptives.
Diagnosis of Ovarian Cancer
The initial diagnosis is made based on the symptoms experienced, family health history, and physical examination results. Then investigation is performed to make the diagnosis, including ultrasound, blood test, or biopsy.
- Ultrasound examination (ultrasound) performed to examine the lower abdomen and reproductive organs. In this examination can be known form, size, and structure of the ovary.
- Blood tests performed to detect the presence of CA 125 protein in the blood. High levels of CA 125 may indicate ovarian cancer. But this test can not be a single benchmark because CA 125 is not a specific test, its levels may increase in other non-cancerous conditions, and not all ovarian cancer patients have elevated levels of CA 125 in the blood.
Ovarian Cancer Stage
If the results show a positive person suffering from ovarian cancer, the next step should be done is to determine the extent of cancer spread. In determining the rate of spread of ovarian cancer, the examination can be done with a CT or MRI scan, chest x-rays, as well as examination of fluid samples of the abdominal cavity and ovarian tissue.
Knowing the extent of cancer spread will help doctors to determine the best treatment steps.
In general, the rate of spread of ovarian cancer is divided into four stages, namely:
- Stage 1: Cancer only attacks one or both ovaries, but has not spread to other organs.
- Stage 2: The cancer has spread from the ovary to the tissues around the pelvis or uterus.
- Stage 3: The cancer has spread to the lining of the stomach, intestinal surface, and lymph nodes in the pelvis or stomach.
- Stage 4: Cancer has spread to other parts of the body, such as the kidneys, liver, and lungs.
Treatment of Ovarian Cancer
Treatment of ovarian cancer may vary in each case, determined by the stage of cancer, health condition, and the desire of the patient to have offspring. The main treatment of ovarian cancer is through surgery and chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
- OperationThe surgical procedure usually involves removal of both ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, and omentum (fatty tissue in the abdomen). This operation can also involve removal of lymph nodes in the pelvis and abdominal cavity to prevent and find out if there is spread of cancer. With the removal of both ovaries and uterus, sufferers can no longer have offspring.Yet another case with ovarian cancer is detected at an early stage. Sufferers may only undergo surgical removal of one ovary and fallopian tube so the possibility to have a descendant still exists.
- ChemotherapyChemotherapy can be scheduled after surgery. This is done to kill the remaining cancer cells. During the course of chemotherapy, the doctor will monitor the patient’s progress regularly to ensure the effectiveness of the drug and the body’s response to the drug.Chemotherapy may also be given before surgery in patients with advanced ovarian cancer, with the aim of shrinking the tumor to facilitate the lifting procedure.Each treatment is at risk for side effects, as well as chemotherapy. Some of the side effects that may occur after chemotherapy process include no appetite, nausea, vomiting, weakness, hair loss, and increased risk of infection.
- RadiotherapyIn addition to surgery and chemotherapy, radiotherapy is another action that can be an alternative. In radiotherapy, cancer cells are killed by radiation from X-rays.Just like chemotherapy, radiotherapy can be given either after or before surgery. Side effects are also similar to chemotherapy, especially the occurrence of hair loss.
Prognosis of Ovarian Cancer
The earlier the ovarian cancer is detected and treated, the likelihood of survival of the patient will increase. Nearly half of people with cancer will survive for at least 5 years after diagnosis, and one-third have a life expectancy of at least 10 years. However, patients who have recovered from cancer still have the potential to experience recurrence in a few years.
In the event of recurrence, the success rate of treatment will be very small. Hence handling in such cases is more aimed at reducing complaints and controlling cancer cells to enter a remission period for months or years.
Prevention of Ovarian Cancer
Because the cause is not yet known, the prevention of ovarian cancer can not be done with certainty. But there are some things that can reduce a person’s risk of this cancer. These steps include:
- Use contraception in pill form for over 10 years. This step is proven to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer by half.
- Living a pregnancy and breastfeeding.
- Applying a healthy lifestyle to avoid obesity Examples are regular exercise and increase consumption of fiber such as fruits and vegetables.
In women who have a high risk of ovarian cancer, surgical removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes before the cancer can also be done in order to minimize the risk. This procedure is usually recommended at age 35 to 40 years, for those who have decided not to have more offspring.