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Ovarian cancer is a type of gynaecological cancer that originates in the ovaries. It is marked by the abnormal and uncontrollable multiplication of cancerous cells that eventually results in the formation of a malignant tumour or multiple small tumours.

Signs and Symptoms

There are certain signs and symptoms that may indicate the prevalence of ovarian cancer and suggest the need for consulting a doctor. These include:

  • Abdominal bloating and swelling
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Unexplained loss of weight
  • Persistent pain and discomfort in the pelvic area
  • Indigestion and change of bowel habits
  • Frequent urgency to urinate

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, it is important to consult a specialist in the field for proper guidance.

Risk factors

There are certain factors that can increase your vulnerability to ovarian cancer. 

  • Age- although the problem can affect women of any age group, it is very common in women lying in the age group of 50 to 60 years.
  • Gene mutation- ovarian cancer can be the result of genetic mutations that are inherited from the parents. Such gene mutation may also be a result of other problems like Lynch Syndrome.
  • Family history- if any of your close relatives are detected with ovarian cancer, there are quite high chances that you might acquire the same.
  • Estrogen hormone replacement therapy- patients taking large doses of Estrogen hormone are also prone to ovarian cancer. 
  • The onset of menstruation- women who started to menstruate from an early age or experienced late menopause are also at a higher riskof ovarian cancer.

Apart from these, women who have never given birth or never breastfed their child are also vulnerable to ovarian cancer.

Causes

Although it is very hard to determine the exact cause of ovarian cancer, most of these are a result of unhealthy gene mutation.

Types

  • Epithelial tumours- this originates in the outer lining of the ovary and account for nearly 90 per cent of the cancers.
  • Stromal tumours- these originate in the ovarian tissues that are responsible for producing hormones. It is relatively easier to detect these tumours at an early stage and account for nearly 7 per cent of the ovarian tumours.
  • Germ cell tumours- these originate from the cells responsible for producing eggs. It is very rare and usually affects younger women.

Prevention

Although there is no way of completely preventing ovarian cancer, there are certain risks that might help to reduce the risks. These include the use of contraceptive pills and frequent check-ups whether you are experiencing the symptoms or not.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis of ovarian cancer includes the physical examination of the pelvic area i.e. the vagina and cervix. Apart from this, imaging tests and blood tests may also be recommended. 
In some cases, the ovaries are removed surgically and tested for any signs of cancer.

Treatment

Treatment for ovarian cancer involves the surgical removal of the ovaries (either 1 or both) and uterus (in some cases). Chemotherapy may be recommended before and after the surgery to reduce the size of the tumor and kill the remaining malignant cells respectively.
 

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