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#20:“When “Her” Goes Wrong!: Ovarian Cancer”

Updated: Mar 22, 2023


Good Morning to my lovely ladies and today is a great day because it’s #WomenWednesday! So technically, I’m a month late with this topic because just like breast cancer awareness month is in October, Ovarian Cancer Awareness month in September. But that’s ok, anytime is a good time to talk about any gynecologic cancers and this one is one of the important ones that we all should be educated and aware of. I urge all of us ladies to check out this website: http://ovarian.org/index.php where they give great detail information regarding ovarian cancer. Did you know the pap test does NOT detect ovarian cancer? It determines cervical cancer, which we will talk about it later. Ovarian cancer is the 5th leading cause of death for women the ages of 35-74. Now listen, I’m NOT trying to bring in fear even though the information may be quite overwhelming and intimidating. Trust me, I understand because I thought I had cancer simply because I was coughing and Google gave me sooo much information about it, that it concluded to cancer lol, However, my goal here is to simply to bring AWARENESS and EDUCATE you all including myself so we can be proactive with our health.

 

WHAT IS OVARIAN CANCER?

Ovarian cancer is a disease in which, depending on the type and stage of the disease, malignant (cancerous) cells are found inside, near, or on the outer layer of the ovaries. It's not clear what causes ovarian cancer, though doctors have identified factors that can increase the risk of the disease.


TYPES OF OVARIAN CANCER

The type of cell where the cancer begins determines the type of ovarian cancer you have. 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.


SIGNS & SYMPTOMS

Ovarian cancer is difficult to detect, especially in the early stages. This is partly due to the fact that the ovaries - two small, almond-shaped organs on either side of the uterus - are deep within the abdominal cavity. The following are often identified by women as some of the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer:

  • Bloating

  • Pelvic or abdominal pain

  • Trouble eating or feeling full quickly

  • Feeling the need to urinate urgently or often

  • Fatigue

  • Upset stomach or heartburn

  • Back pain

  • Pain during sex

  • Constipation or menstrual changes

If symptoms are new and persist for more than two weeks, it is recommended that a woman see her doctor, and a gynecologic oncologist before surgery if cancer is suspected.


GIRL, DID YOU KNOW?!

In women ages 35-74, ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer-related deaths. An estimated one woman in 78 will develop ovarian cancer during her lifetime. The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be over 22,280 new cases of ovarian cancer diagnosed this year and that more than 14,240 women will die from ovarian cancer this year.


RISK FACTORS

  • All women are at risk

  • Symptoms exist - they can be vague, but usually get more intense over time

  • Early detection increases survival rate

  • A Pap test DOES NOT detect ovarian cancer

Ovarian cancer risk factors include:

  • Genetic predisposition

  • Personal or family history of breast, ovarian, or colon cancer

  • Increasing age

  • Infertility

While the presence of one or more risk factors may increase a woman's chance of developing ovarian cancer, it does not necessarily mean that she will get the disease. A woman with one or more risk factors should be extra vigilant in watching for early symptoms.


HOW AM I DIAGNOSED WITH OVARIAN CANCER?

Although there is no consistently-reliable screening test to detect ovarian cancer, the following tests are available and should be offered to women, especially those women at high risk for the disease:


  • Pelvic Exam: Women age 18 and older should have a mandatory annual vaginal exam. Women age 35 and older should receive an annual rectovaginal exam (physician inserts fingers in the rectum and vagina simultaneously to feel for abnormal swelling and to detect tenderness).

  • Transvaginal Sonography: This ultrasound, performed with a small instrument placed in the vagina, is appropriate, especially for women at high risk for ovarian cancer, or for those with an abnormal pelvic exam.

  • CA-125 Test: This blood test determines if the level of CA-125, a protein produced by ovarian cancer cells, has increased in the blood of a woman at high risk for ovarian cancer, or a woman with an abnormal pelvic examination.

TREATMENT

Treatment of ovarian cancer usually involves a combination of surgery and chemotherapy.

  • Surgery to remove one ovary. For very early stage cancer that hasn't spread beyond one ovary, surgery may involve removing the affected ovary and its fallopian tube. This procedure may preserve your ability to have children.

  • Surgery to remove both ovaries. If cancer is present in both your ovaries, but there are no signs of additional cancer, your surgeon may remove both ovaries and both fallopian tubes. This procedure leaves your uterus intact, so you may still be able to become pregnant using your own frozen embryos or eggs or with eggs from a donor.

  • Surgery to remove both ovaries and the uterus. If your cancer is more extensive or if you don't wish to preserve your ability to have children, your surgeon will remove the ovaries, the fallopian tubes, the uterus, nearby lymph nodes and a fold of fatty abdominal tissue (omentum).

  • Surgery for advanced cancer. If your cancer is advanced, your doctor may recommend chemotherapy followed by surgery to remove as much of the cancer as possible.


Resource:

National Ovarian Cancer Coalition

Mayo Clinic


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