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Ovarian Cancer Awareness Causes, Symptoms, and Tips to Reduce its Risk

  • September 26, 2022

Did you know? Ovarian cancer is one of the most life-threatening cancers affecting a woman’s reproductive system. It is often referred to as the “silent killer” as its symptoms are often attributed to other conditions affecting women. A majority of cases are often detected too late when the disease has advanced to a later stage. Therefore, spreading awareness about ovarian cancer and its early detection is important.


Before we understand the causes and symptoms of this fatal disease, let's understand the functioning of the ovaries. The female reproductive system contains two ovaries situated one on each side of the uterus. Both these ovaries are about the size of an almond and produce eggs, called ova. They also as secrete hormones known as estrogen and progesterone. There are 4 types of ovarian cancer:

·         Epithelial ovarian cancer: It is the most common type of ovarian cancer. Primary peritoneal cancer and fallopian tube cancer are similar and treated in the same way.

·         Germ cell ovarian tumours: These types of tumours are rare and usually affect girls/young women up to their early 30s. Ovarian teratoma is the most common type of tumour.

·         Sex cord stromal tumours: These are usually non-cancerous or cancerous and Granulosa cell tumours are the most common.

·         Borderline ovarian tumours: This tumour is caused when abnormal cells form in the tissue covering the ovary. They can usually be cured with surgery.

Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths all over the world and September is considered the ovarian cancer month to raise awareness. Detecting the early signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer can lead to timely diagnosis and accurate treatment. Let’s have a look at some of the symptoms.


Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer


The symptoms of ovarian cancer may go unnoticed as they tend to be associated with other conditions. These symptoms can be the following:

                    Persistent stomach pain and bloating

                    Difficulty in eating or feeling full more quickly

                    Needing to wee more frequently

                    Extreme back pain

                    Changes in bowel habits (going more often or a lot less)

                    Extreme tiredness for no obvious reason

These can also be symptoms of other, less serious conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, ovarian cysts and polycystic ovary syndrome. If you are experiencing these symptoms, it does not necessarily mean you have ovarian cancer.

You need to visit your gynaecologist if your symptoms are persistent, severe, or out of ordinary. You should make an appointment as soon as possible and ensure you have a record of what symptoms you are experiencing so you have your notes handy when you speak to your doctor. This will help your doctor to arrive at a faster diagnosis. It is absolutely essential for women to embrace preventive healthcare at the earliest as early screening and regular gynaecology check-ups can help diagnose symptoms, enabling you to treat the health risk at its early stages.


Causes of Ovarian Cancer

The cause of ovarian cancer is still unknown. This life-threatening disease begins when cells in or near the ovaries develop mutations in their DNA. Usually, a cell's DNA instructs the cell what to do. The changes tell the cells to grow and multiply quickly, creating a mass tumour of cancer cells. These cancer cells continue living while the healthy cells die. They can also invade nearby tissues and break off from an initial tumour to spread to other parts of the body. It is called metastasis.

Did you know? Unlike cervical, bowel, and breast cancer, there is still no reliable, effective screening method for ovarian cancer. This is where the need arises for maximum awareness. Screening for ovarian cancer is difficult, but pelvic imaging and blood tests are the best methods for diagnosing ovarian cancer. Increasing age and a family history of the disease are the strongest risk factors. Let's have a look at some other risk factors:

        Being overweight or obese: Maintaining your BMI index can help in the prevention of ovarian cancer.

        Postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy: Hormone replacement therapy to control menopause may put you at risk of ovarian cancer.

        Endometriosis: It is a disorder in which tissue similar to the tissue that lines the inside of your uterus grows outside your uterus.

        Early menstruation and late menopause: Early beginning of menstruation and late menopause, or both, may increase the risk of ovarian cancer.

        Never having been pregnant: If you have never been pregnant it increases the risk of ovarian cancer.


Tips to Reduce the Risk of Ovarian Cancer


There is no sure way to prevent cancer, but you can follow certain things that can help you keep it at bay. You need to make healthy choices like eating right, staying active and quitting smoking.

Finding cancer early: It is important to regularly check and follow recommended screening guidelines to increase the chances of detecting ovarian cancer early before it has a chance to spread.

Stay away from tobacco: Quitting tobacco is important. It isn't easy but can be done. Whether you smoke cigarettes or even use smokeless tobacco, you can always find help to take the first step towards quitting.

Eat right and stay active: You can lower your cancer risk by following a healthy and active lifestyle.

Avoid birth control pills: Active consumption of birth control pills increases the risk of ovarian cancer and it can continue even after stopping them.

Stay protected with HPV: The HPV vaccine is formulated to protect your kids from cancer as adults.


Why is it necessary to spread awareness about Ovarian Cancer?


Ovarian cancer may go unnoticed if you turn a blind eye to the early symptoms. If you have a family history of ovarian cancer, it is important to conduct regular screening and bring it up with your doctor. You can also visit a genetic counsellor who can suggest if genetic testing may be the perfect pick for you. Let's spread the word to keep your loved ones educated and informed and protect them from this life-threatening disease.