Cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. For many years scientists and researchers have worked around the clock to try and find cures for every type of cancer. To the present day we are still learning about this deadly disease, and without a cure, we are left watching out for signs and symptoms that can help lead to a diagnosis.
Take ovarian cancer for example, according to statistics, Canada was estimated to have 2,800 cases of this cancer and 1,750 deaths from those cases in 2016. The United States was estimated to have 22,280 new cases and a total of 14,240 deaths in 2016.
The reason why there is such a high death total is that this cancer is incredibly hard to diagnose. There is currently no test that can be done to diagnose it, and the symptoms are often mistaken for other diseases. However, new research has indicated that there are promising signs and symptoms of early ovarian cancer.
Before I get into the early signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer, here is a little bit of information about the disease. There are three types of ovarian cancer; first, you have the epithelial tumors, which start on the tissue that is found outside of the ovaries. Almost 90 percent of ovarian cancer cases are epithelial tumors. Next, you have the stromal tumors; they start on the ovarian tissue that is responsible for producing hormone cells. These tumors are diagnosed at the early stages and about 7 percent of ovarian tumors are stromal. The last type is germ cell tumors; they start in the egg-producing cells. Generally, this type of tumor only occurs in younger women. It’s important to understand the risk factors associated with ovarian cancer as well as its various stages and the different treatment options available to women. Understanding more about ovarian cancer can help you know what types of things to look out for in the event that you are worried you may be at risk for ovarian cancer.
Let’s take a look at risk factors for ovarian cancers first. Like most diseases, there are certain risk factors that need to be taken into consideration when talking about ovarian cancer. Take your age for example; anyone can be diagnosed with ovarian cancer, but those who are 50 to 60 years old have a higher risk of being diagnosed with it. Also, it is possible to inherit the gene mutation that causes it. The gene is breast cancer gene 1 and breast cancer gene 2.
Other risk factors associated with ovarian cancer include being overweight or obese. Studies suggest that women who are obese may have a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer, and that obesity may also affect the survival chances of a woman who has developed ovarian cancer. This is why it is important to visit your doctor if you are obese or overweight to find out how you can improve your lifestyle to reduce your risk of developing ovarian cancer as well as other types of cancer.
Studies also state that women who have children after the age of 35 have a higher risk of ovarian cancer, while other studies suggest that women who take hormone therapy after menopause (for example, estrogen) may be more at risk of developing ovarian cancer. Women who take estrogen without progesterone are more likely to develop ovarian cancer as opposed to women who take both estrogen and progesterone.
As I mentioned, there is no test that can show ovarian cancer, but there are other tests that can help doctors make a decision. The first test is an imaging test that includes an ultrasound or CT scan of the pelvis and abdomen. These two tests can help tell the size and shape of a woman’s ovaries. The second test is a blood test that can detect a protein (CA 125) that is usually found in ovarian cancer cases.
Stages Of Ovarian Cancer
There are 4 stages of ovarian cancer. Stage 1 of ovarian cancer is when the cancer is found in one or both ovaries. Stage 2 is when the cancer has begun to spread to other areas of the pelvis. In stage 3, the cancer has now spread to the abdomen. The final stage is when the cancer is found outside the abdomen.
There are various different types of treatment options available for women who have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. The type of treatment a woman receives depends on how advanced the cancer has become. Treatments for ovarian cancer include local treatments which treat the tumor. This may include surgery to remove the tumor or even radiation therapy. Systemic treatments, on the other hand, reach the cancer cells which are located anywhere in the body. This type of treatment is given in the form of drugs, and can be taken in pill form or injected into the bloodstream. Different types of drug treatment for ovarian cancer include chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and targeted therapy.
Treatment plants vary depending on the type of ovarian cancer a woman is diagnosed with and the stage of cancer she is in. Most women who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer receive surgery to remove the tumor, while other forms of treatment will vary depending on how advanced the cancer is. For more information about treatment for ovarian cancer, consult with your doctor today.
Now, let’s explore the most common early signs of ovarian cancer. Here are 4 early symptoms of ovarian cancer that every woman needs to know.
1. Constant Bloating
If you are experiencing constant bloating that is out of the ordinary (usually lasting for three weeks or longer), this could be a sign of ovarian cancer. The best thing to do in this situation is to consult your doctor to get a proper diagnosis.
If you are experiencing unusual bloating that lasts for more than three weeks, you should speak to your doctor to rule out the possibility of ovarian cancer or any other type of cancer, particularly if you are over the age of 50 or if there is a history of breast or ovarian cancer in your family, which can put you at higher risk for developing those types of cancers.
2. Pain In Your Pelvis or Lower Abdomen
It is normal for women to feel pain in their stomach, pelvis and abdomen area during menstruation. But when that pain does not subside long after the woman is done menstruating, it could be a sign of ovarian cancer. This sign is particularly important for women to watch out for because it is often mistaken for period pain.
If you experience any unusual pain in your pelvis, lower abdomen, or even feel fatigue in your legs, it is best to speak to a doctor. In addition to pain in your pelvis or lower abdomen, another symptom of ovarian cancer is extreme fatigue. If you are feeling extremely tired or weak, or your body and muscles do not feel as strong as they used to, monitor your body. If this continues over a period of weeks, it is best to consult your doctor. Be sure to mention any other unusual health issues or symptoms you may be experiencing.
3. Eating Issues
If you notice that you are becoming less hungry over a three-week span, you should go consult your doctor. It could be issues with your stomach or intestines, but it could also be a sign of ovarian cancer, so it’s best not to leave it up to chance.
In addition to losing your appetite, another common symptom of ovarian cancer is a constant feeling of being full, increased weight loss, or excessive weight gain. In addition to these types of eating issues, you may also experience heartburn and gastrointestinal issues such as burping. Other symptoms or signs of ovarian cancer include constipation, diarrhea, nausea, indigestion and heartburn. If you are experiencing issues with weight loss or gain, or have noticed that you have developed unusual or painful stomach issues, speak to your doctor immediately to rule out the possibility of ovarian cancer.
4. Urgent Need to Urinate
If you notice that you are constantly running to the bathroom to urinate and you have made no changes to the amount of liquid you consume, this could be an early sign of ovarian cancer. Also, if you feel fine one minute and two minutes later you are running to the bathroom, it could be a bladder infection but also ovarian cancer.
There are many different symptoms which are associated with ovarian cancer. Some more common symptoms of ovarian cancer include severe fatigue, difficulty eating, pain during intercourse, unusual vaginal bleeding, unexplained weight gain, and much more. If you notice one or more of any of these symptoms, or any of the symptoms listed in this video, speak to your doctor today to rule out any health conditions or problems. You should also be sure to eat a nutrient rich diet and include some sort of exercise regimen into your life while also going for regular doctor visits to ensure that your health is in good shape.