Ovarian cancer is a malignant tumor in one
or both ovaries. There are 4 main types of
ovarian cancer; the most common type is
epithelial ovarian tumor.
Q: What causes ovarian cancer?
The cause of ovarian cancer is unknown,
although there are some factors which seem
to put women at a higher risk. Some of the
risk factors are:
. Women with few pregnancies or who have
never been pregnant
. Women who have never been on contraceptive
. Family history of the disease
. High fatty diet, and
. Mumps virus
Ovarian cancer is more common in the
Q: How is ovarian cancer diagnosed?
The diagnosis may be difficult, however, the
following Ovarian symptoms & signs may be present:
. Feeling of discomfort, bloated feeling in
. Change in bowel habits
. Flatulence & indigestion
. Symptoms related to the kidney or bladder
. Abnormal vaginal bleeding
. Pain in the abdomen
. Enlarged abdomen from the tumour, and
. Loss of weight
During physical examination, a doctor may be
able to detect a lump or fluid in the
abdomen. Additional diagnostic methods
include blood tests, routine chest &
abdominal x-rays, ultrasound of the lower
abdomen, and barium enema. The gold
standard, however, is a laparotomy.
Q: What are the treatments available for
These include a laparotomy, chemotherapy and
A laparatomy is an operation in the abdomen.
Tissue samples are removed and sent for
laboratory investigation. The results of
these biopsies will show the extent and the
type of the disease. Very often, the ovaries
and fallopian tubes, the entire uterus and
the surrounding organs are also removed.
Chemotherapy is almost always recommended
for ovarian cancer in advanced stage. This
involves the use of anticancer drugs to
destroy and stop cancer cells from
multiplying. Chemotherapy works best when
the remaining tumour is small in amount and
is usually given through an intravenous
Radiotherapy is occasionally used,
especially if the tumour is confined to the
Q: What happens after one has gone through
She may experience menopausal symptoms and
therefore may require hormone replacement
therapy. There may also be bowel problems.
If she has symptoms of vomiting, discomfort
or pain in the abdomen, then she should see
a doctor immediately.
Other problems she may have after treatment
are accumulation of fluid in the legs, in
the abdomen and in the chest.
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