Ovarian cancer is a sly disease. On early stages ovarian cancer symptoms aren’t present that hinders diagnostics. Ovarian cancer treatment has always complex approach and starts with surgical removal of the tumor, if that is possible. Below we will review in detail all types, symptoms and each component of treatment for this disease.
Ovarian cancer is the abnormal growth of a tissue in the ovaries. The ovaries are known to produce eggs (ova) and hormones estrogen and progesterone.
The ovaries are made of three main kinds of cells which can each develop into a different type of tumour.
- Epithelial tumour: This starts from the cells that cover the outer surface of the ovary and is the most common ovarian tumour.
- Germ cell tumour:This starts from the cells that produce the eggs
- Stromal tumour: This starts from the structural tissue cells that hold the ovary together and produce the female hormones.
Most of these tumours are benign and never spread beyond the ovary and are easy to treat, they become difficult when noticed in the late stage when it has spread to the pelvis and abdomen. At this stage, ovarian cancer is more difficult to treat and is frequently fatal.
OVARIAN CANCER SYMPTOMS
In some cases, ovarian cancer may show early symptoms, these include:
- Frequent bloating
- Abdomen or pelvis pain
- Trouble eating or feeling full quickly
- Urinary problems (urgent need to urinate frequently)
Not all the symptoms may mean ovarian cancer, but the ovarian cancer symptoms follow the pattern below;
- The symptoms start suddenly
- They feel different to the normal digestive or menstrual problems
- They occur every day and don’t end.
Other symptoms may include:
- Back pain
- Pain with intercourse
- Change in menstrual cycle
OVARIAN CANCER TREATMENT OPTIONS
The first treatment carried out in ovarian cancer is usually an operation known as laparotomy. This operation is the main way a diagnosis can be given. During a laparotomy, a long vertical cut is made in the abdomen which lets surgeon remove as much of the tumour is possible. In most cases, a biopsy is carried out on the tumour at the beginning of the operation to determine if it is cancerous. This is called a frozen section, the operation continues on confirmation that the tumour is indeed cancerous.
In most women the operation involves the removal of the ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, omentum, appendix and some of the lymph nodes in the area. The removal of some of the bowels might be deemed necessary.
Most women require chemotherapy often referred to as chemo in the treatment of ovarian cancer, this is usually carried out after surgery procedure. The purpose of chemo is to attack cancer cells and to either stop or slow their growth while causing the least possible damage to normal cells.
Chemotherapy treatment is given under the supervision of an oncologist who provides a treatment plan chemo treatment plan. The treatment is usually done in an outpatient clinic at a treatment hospital through the use of an intravenous (IV) drip. Most women receive six rounds or cycles of treatment with three or four weeks in between each treatment over which blood tests are carried out to make sure the normal cells have had time to recover. The total treatment takes up to several months to be competed.
Further chemotherapy may be needed if the cancer does not react completely to the initial treatment. Further drug treatment may also be needed on the return of the ovarian cancer; this treatment depends on the chemo drugs that have initially been used.
Chemotherapy can cause damage to healthy cells in the body and can also lead to a variety of temporary lasting side effects.
Radiotherapy is a treatment used on occasion for the treatment of ovarian cancer in cases such as advanced ovarian cancer or when the cancer Is restricted to the pelvic cavity. This treatment makes use of special x-rays which are aimed at the specific sites of the cancer damaging the DNA or genetic code in the cancer cells and kills them when they try to grow.
DIAGNOSING OVARIAN CANCER
- History taking and physical exam: The doctor asks questions on symptoms experienced before carrying out a physical. This includes an enlarged ovary and signs of fluid in the abdomen. If there are reasons to suspect ovarian cancer, other tests will be issued.
- Ultrasound: This test makes use of sound waves to create an imaging on a video screen; sound waves are released into the woman’s vagina or on the surface of the abdomen. These sound waves release echoes which the probe detects and are translated by the computer.
- Computed Tomography (CT) scans: This is an x-ray procedure that creates detailed cross-sectional imaging of the body. The CT scanner takes many pictures as it rotates around the body which are combined by the computer to create an image of a slice of the body. The machine takes pictures of multiple slices of the part of the body under study.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Scans: Instead of x-rays, MRI makes use of radio waves and strong magnets. The energy from the radio waves Is absorbed and released in a pattern formed by the type of tissue and certain diseases. The computer translates this pattern into a very detailed image of parts of the body. MRI scans are not often used to detect ovarian cancer.