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Ovarian Cancers

What is Ovarian Cancer?

Recognized as the third most common gynaecological cancer in Indian females, ovarian cancer is marked by the uncontrollable growth of the ovarian cells, which gradually accumulate to form a tumour. The ovaries are a pair of ova-generating organs that secrete essential reproductive hormones like oestrogen and progesterone, as well as protect the eggs. Ovarian cancer usually goes undetected in the initial stages as the symptoms start showing up after cancer has advanced to a later stage.

Some common types of ovarian cancer include:

  • Epithelial tumours, that account for 90 per cent of the ovarian cancers
  • Stromal tumours which account for 7 per cent of the cases
  • Germ cell tumours, which are quite rare and most likely to affect young women.

What are the symptoms that you need to look out for?

  • Swelling or bloating in the abdomen
  • Feeling full even after eating a little
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Pelvic pain and discomfort
  • Problems with digestion
  • Frequent urge to urinate
    • What causes ovarian cancer?

      Though the exact cause of ovarian cancer is not known, it is believed to be triggered by unhealthy changes in the DNA of the ovarian cells, which can be triggered by a variety of reasons.

      What are the various risk factors associated with ovarian cancer?

      • Age – Ovarian cancer is more common in women lying in the age group of 50 to 60 years
      • Inherited genetic mutations – Such kinds of mutations are passed down from parents to the child. These account for a very little section of the ovarian cancers
      • Oestrogen hormone therapy – Long-term use of these hormone supplements can increase your chances of developing ovarian cancer
      • Family history – Having one or more family members or close relatives with ovarian cancer puts you in the risk category as well
      • Early menstruation or late menopause – If you started having your periods at a very early age, or experience delayed menopause, your risks of developing ovarian cancer are significantly increased

      Screening & diagnosis

      Various modalities available for the screening and diagnosis of ovarian cancer are listed below:

      • Pelvic exam – A transvaginal examination is carried out by inserting well-lubricate, gloved fingers into your vagina and feeling the pelvic organs.
      • Imaging tests – These involve imaging modalities like ultrasound and CT scan of the pelvic and abdominal region
      • Blood tests – A sample of your blood will be evaluated for tumour markers that point towards the prevalence of ovarian cancer
      • Surgery – In case your doctor is not sure about your diagnosis and needs to assess further, one of your ovaries will be removed surgically to be tested for the signs of cancer.
      • Treatment:

        Various treatment options available for addressing ovarian cancer include:


        Surgery – The aim of the surgery is to extract the tumour and the affected organ. There is a wide range of surgical options available that include the following:

        • Surgical removal of a single ovary and its fallopian tube. Since the other ovary and uterus is left intact, this helps to preserve your ability to have a child
        • Surgical removal of both ovaries and fallopian tubes, which is done when both the ovaries have been affected and damaged. Since the uterus is kept intact, you might still be able to achieve pregnancy using frozen eggs or embryos.
        • In case cancer has spread extensively, the uterus is removed along with the ovaries and the fallopian tubes. This is an option for women who do not wish to preserve their pregnancy

        Chemotherapy – It uses special drugs, that are given orally or intravenously, to target rapidly-growing cancerous cells. Chemotherapy may be used in combination with other treatments to yield maximum results.

        Targeted therapy – Targeted therapy is usually used to address recurring ovarian cancer by targeting certain vulnerabilities present in the cancer cells. Doctors usually conduct a biopsy to determine which targeted therapy is best suited for you.

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