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FIND DOCTORS ONLINE AND GET EXPERT MEDICAL GUIDANCE ON OVARIAN CANCER

Ovarian cancer is a type of cancer that involves the ovaries. The female reproductive system contains two ovaries, one on each side of the uterus. The ovaries main function is to produce eggs (ova) as well as the female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone. Once you have hit puberty/reproductive age you discuss ovarian and uterine health with your doctor or you can find doctors online and get medical advice from the comfort of your own home.  

Ovarian cancer can remain undetected until it has spread within the pelvis and abdomen i.e. it is often detected at an advanced stage. At this late stage, ovarian cancer is more difficult to treat. Early-stage ovarian cancer, in which the disease is confined to the ovary, is more likely to be treated successfully. This is why it is important to know some of the early signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer.

Symptoms of ovarian cancer

Early-stage ovarian cancer rarely causes any symptoms and often goes undetected. Advanced-stage ovarian cancer may cause few and nonspecific symptoms that are often mistaken for more common benign conditions. If you’re confused and have been experiencing symptoms like unexplained weight loss and/or pain in the lower abdomen or pelvis then talk to your doctor. If you are unable to access one then find doctors online through online healthcare services and get the answers you’re looking for.  

Some common signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer may include:

  • Abdominal bloating or swelling
  • Quickly feeling full when eating
  • Weight loss
  • Discomfort in the pelvis area
  • Changes in bowel habits, such as constipation
  • A frequent need to urinate

When do you need to see a doctor?

If you have any of the above symptoms along with a family history of ovarian cancer or breast cancer, talk to your doctor about your risk of ovarian cancer. Your may be referred to a genetic counselor to discuss testing for certain gene mutations that increase the likelihood of developing breast and ovarian cancer.

Causes of ovarian cancer

The exact cause of ovarian cancer is not known but experts have identified factors that can increase the risk of getting the disease.

Research suggests that cancer begins when a cell develops errors or mutations in its DNA. The cells begin to grow and multiply quickly, creating a mass of abnormal cells (tumor). The abnormal cells continue to divide and soon start to replace healthy cells. They can invade nearby healthy tissues and break off from an initial tumor to spread elsewhere in the body (metastasize).

If you have a first degree relative with ovarian cancer then you may have a genetic component for the disease as well. You can always get your genes tested to make sure. Find online doctors and email your questions about genetic testing to healthcare professionals online.

Types of ovarian cancer

There are three main types of ovarian cancer. The type depends on the type of cell the ovarian cancer stems from. Ovarian cancer types include:

  • Epithelial tumors, which begin in the thin layer of tissue that covers the outside of the ovaries. About 90 percent of ovarian cancers are epithelial tumors.
  • Stromal tumors, which begin in the ovarian tissue that contains hormone-producing cells. These tumors are usually diagnosed at an earlier stage than other ovarian tumors. About 7 percent of ovarian tumors are stromal.
  • Germ cell tumors, which begin in the egg-producing cells. These rare ovarian cancers tend to occur in younger women.

Risk factors

There are certain risk factors you can’t control like age. Although ovarian cancer can occur at any age it is most common in women aged 50 to 60 years. The age when menstruation started and ended also increases the risk of ovarian cancer.

As mentioned before, genetics play a major role in the development of ovarian cancer as well. A small percentage of ovarian cancers are caused by gene mutations you inherit from your parents. The most well-known genes that increase the risk of ovarian cancer are called breast cancer gene 1 (BRCA1) and breast cancer gene 2 (BRCA2). These genes also increase the risk of breast cancer. Studies also suggest a link between Lynch syndrome and ovarian cancer.

Birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has also been seen to increase the risk of ovarian cancer. Estrogen hormone replacement therapy, especially with long-term use and in large doses may affect susceptible individuals.

Can ovarian cancer be prevented?

There's no sure way to prevent ovarian cancer. But there may be ways to reduce your risk:

This might seem contradictory, but using the right type of birth control pills with guidance of your doctor may decrease the risk of ovarian cancer. Women who use oral contraceptives may have a reduced risk of ovarian cancer. But oral contraceptives do have risks of their own, so discuss whether the benefits outweigh those risks based on your situation.

If you have any of the risk factors mentioned above, discuss them with your doctor. If you have a family history of breast and ovarian cancers, bring this up with your doctor too. Use online healthcare services to book a tele-appointment with doctor today. Online medical consultations are a quick and convenient way of talking to a healthcare professional without stepping foot into a doctor’s office. Your doctor can determine what this may mean for your own risk of cancer. In some cases, your doctor may refer you to a genetic counselor who can help you decide whether genetic testing may be right for you. If you're found to have a gene mutation that increases your risk of ovarian cancer, you may consider surgery to remove your ovaries to prevent cancer altogether.

Treatment

The type of treatment given depends on the type and stage of ovarian cancer. If the cancer affects the ovaries alone then your doctor may advise surgery of one or both ovaries. If the cancer is more extensive and has spread to the uterus then the uterus may have to be removed as well. Advanced stage cancer usually requires chemotherapy after surgery.

Chemotherapy comprises of certain chemicals and drugs that kill the fast-growing cancer cells. Chemotherapy has its own side effects and wears the patient down physically and mentally that’s why supportive and palliative care is by far the most important aspect of cancer care.

Palliative care is provided by a team of doctors, nurses and other specially trained professionals. Palliative care teams aim to improve the quality of life for people with cancer and their families. This form of care is offered alongside curative or other treatments you may be receiving.

For more details about on breast cancer and cancer care please visit www.mylivedoctors.com.