Ovarian cancer: know the symptoms, causes and treatments

There are several types of  cancer , including ovarian cancer. This disease is characterized by the development of diseased tissue in one or both ovaries – female organs with the function of producing eggs and sex hormones (progesterone and estrogen).

Ovarian cancer is more common in women over 50, but it can happen at any age. Thinking about it, we created this post to explain a little more about this serious disease and its symptoms, as well as its causes and treatments. Check out!

What types of ovarian cancer are there?

Ovarian cancer   is a disease whose type of early cancer cells determine the category of the disease. There are three types of tumors and we will explain a little more about each below.

  • stromal tumors: this type contains hormone-producing cells and begins in the ovarian tissue. It is usually diagnosed at an early stage more often than other types. About 7% of diagnoses of ovarian tumors are stroma;
  • epithelial tumors: they reach the thin layer of tissue that surrounds the outer side of the ovaries. Most tumors are epithelial, about 90%;
  • germ cell tumors: begins in egg-producing cells. This type is rare and tends to affect younger women.

What are the causes?

Unfortunately, the causes   of ovarian cancer have not yet been fully discovered. It is known that it comes from a genetic mutation that alters the characteristics of cells, causing them to multiply quickly. Thus, they spread to form clusters known as tumors.

There are some risk factors that increase a woman’s chances of getting ovarian cancer. Among them are:

  • family history;
  • early onset of menstruation, before age 12;
  • continuous use of hormonal medicines;
  • pregnancy after 35 years or no pregnancy;
  • menopause after 50 years.

What are the main symptoms?

Ovarian cancer usually has no symptoms – especially in its early stages. But, like any other disease, some signs can point out that something is wrong with your body and health.

The following are some problems that may indicate this type of cancer.

  • increased abdomen volume;
  • pelvis or abdominal pain;
  • rapid feeling of fullness or difficulty in feeding;
  • urinary problems, more frequent or more urgent to urinate;
  • frequent tiredness;
  • stuck intestine or diarrhea;
  • irregular menstruation;
  • bleeding outside the menstrual period;
  • pain during sex.

Some of these symptoms may appear because of other illnesses or not manifest at all. That is why regular visits to the gynecologist and preventive exams are so important.

Why is it important to diagnose it in its early stage?

Regardless of the type of disease, prevention is always the best treatment. In the case of ovarian cancer, the diagnosis at an early stage can be fundamental for a complete cure and to guarantee a longer life span for the woman.

Certain precautions can help to discover the disease early. Below, see some of them.

Make regular appointments with the gynecologist

Going to the  gynecologist  annually is one of the most common recommendations regarding our intimate health. This monitoring is indicated from the first menstruation, and it is he who can help to discover the disease in its initial stage.

To do this, see a specialist at least once a year or if you experience any abnormal discomfort. If you have any family history of the disease, make more regular appointments – so the chances of identifying cancer in the early stages are greater.

Take preventive exams

When making an appointment with the gynecologist, he passes several  preventive exams . It is common to feel uncomfortable or unwilling to perform them, but it is these analyzes that guarantee the health of your body or point out an anomaly.

It is with these tests that ovarian cancer can be discovered, especially in its early stages.

How is the diagnosis of ovarian cancer made?

Diagnosis of ovarian cancer can be made by a gynecologist or oncologist. They are performed from  a pelvic exam , conducted by the doctor in the office, and imaging exams. Blood tests may also be ordered to help identify the presence of cancer cells.

After diagnosis, a biopsy is performed to identify the type of cells present (benign or malignant) and the size of the tumor. It is at this point that the cancer stage is discovered.

There are four stages of ovarian cancer – the more advanced, the more difficult it is to cure.

  • stage I: it is found in one or both ovaries;
  • stage II: spread to other parts of the pelvis;
  • stage III: spread to the abdomen;
  • stage IV: it is found in other organs outside the abdomen.

What is the treatment for this disease?

The treatment for   ovarian cancer is defined after the diagnosis of the type of tumor and stage at which the disease is. In the case of the initial stage, the treatment may be the removal of cancer cells, in addition to chemotherapy and radiation therapy sessions for complete removal of the cells.

In case the cancer has not spread to other regions, the affected ovary and the fallopian tube are removed. When there is metastasis, that is, when the cancer spreads to other organs, it may be necessary to remove most of the reproductive organs.

More advanced stages are less likely to cure and surgeries are generally not recommended. In such cases, more aggressive treatments are indicated, such as chemo and radiotherapy sessions, which help to reduce the size of the tumor and increase the patient’s life span.

As we have seen, the diagnosis and treatment of ovarian cancer are carried out by specialist doctors. Therefore, if you have suspicion or symptoms of the disease, seek a gynecologist to have the necessary tests performed.

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