Ovarian cancer is the second most common gynecological cancer with the highest mortality rate. It is often diagnosed too late. Women often ignore the important warning symptoms that could potentially save their life.
This disease mostly affects women from Europe, particularly from Eastern and Northern Europe. It is the sixth most common cancer in European women. In 2012, there were 65,000 patients diagnosed with this deadly cancer. Each year about 250,000 women get cancer. Sadly, only half of them survive up to five years from the day they are diagnosed with cancer. And the reason is because it is discovered too late. But, if detected quickly, up to 95% of women can be saved.
Ovarian cancer most commonly develops in women in their 50s or older, but this is not a strict rule, and it can appear in women at any age. Fifty percent of women who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer are age 65 and older. The highest diagnosed rate of ovarian cancer is in developed, industrialized countries. Asian and African-American women are at slightly lower risk than women with white skin.
Ovarian Cancer Symptoms and Signs
The bad news is that there are no early signs of the disease. That is why this cancer is named a “silent killer,” because women don’t know if they have it. They may have symptoms that are not linked with this cancer until the cancer is in advanced stages.
Here are some symptoms that can be warning signs of ovarian cancer:
- frequent urination or pelvic pressure
- vomiting or nausea
- digestive symptoms such as constipation, indigestion, gases, a feeling of fullness after a light meal, bloating, abdominal discomfort, and cramps
- lack of appetite
- pain during intercourse
- unexplained weight gain or weight loss
- vaginal bleeding in post-menopausal women
- unexplained changes in bowel habits
- swelling or abdominal pain
Risk Factors for Ovarian Cancer
It is known that some factors increase the risk of developing ovarian cancer. Exact causes are still unknown.
These risk factors increase the likelihood of developing ovarian cancer:
- white women, especially in Northern Europe
- women who have had breast cancer
- women who have never been pregnant or had children
- women who are age 50 or older
- women who have a family history of ovarian, breast, prostate, endometrial (uterine) or colon cancer
- women with genetic mutation in BRCA1 or BRCA2 (although not every woman with these mutations will develop ovarian cancer)
Diagnosing Ovarian Cancer
Unfortunately, there are no precise tests that can reliably specify if a woman has developed ovarian cancer in its early stage. Various ray procedures, careful bimanual examination, and diagnostic laparoscopy can be used.
Transvaginal ultrasound is also used for checking women’s reproductive organs.
Low GI arrangement or barium bowel purge include using X-rays to highlight other organs. A CA-125 blood test is used to indicate the level of CA-125, a tumor marker.