Ovarian cancer is also known as a silent cancer as it usually shows no symptoms until it spreads all over the body. Nowadays, many possible early signs are identified to be associated with ovarian cancer. It’s crucial for one as a female to master these signs. Those may be caused by benign conditions (non-cancerous tumors), but it’s important to rule out ovarian cancer first. Ovarian cancer is a serious cancer which is associated with poor prognosis; that’s why people have to educate themselves about it.
Many risk factors are related to high risk of ovarian cancer, following are some of them:
Age; most ovarian cancers occur after menopause
Family history of ovarian cancer, breast cancer, or endometrial cancer,
Genetic factors; especially the presence of BRCA genes,
History of using drugs for induction of ovulation for more than a year,
Using hormonal replacement therapy to treat menopause symptoms.
Some factors may decrease the risk of having ovarian cancer, some of them are:
Using oral birth control drugs,
History of tubal ligation procedure,
History of uterus resection (Hysterectomy),
Having children protects from ovarian cancer: the more children a woman has, the lesser the risk of ovarian cancer will be,
Unfortunately, there is no specific test to screen for ovarian cancer. You may hear about CA-125 test to screen for ovarian cancer; many studies indicated
that this test is not that accurate to detect the ovarian cancer early.
CA-125 is a protein that is elevated in multiple diseases such as in ovarian cancer. This test is not specific for ovarian cancer, and many women may have high level of CA-125 while they are normal. That’s why it’s not recommended to perform this test as a screening test for ovarian cancer.
Transvaginal ultrasound is another test that may be performed to screen for any possible masses in ovary. This test is also not accurate as it takes a lot of time for a cancerous mass in order to appear in ultrasound; this will be a late stage of cancer.
Some general symptoms may be suggestive for ovarian cancer, following are some of them:
Persistence bloating in the abdomen,
Pain in the abdomen,
Pain in the pelvis,
Early satiety after eating small amount of food,
Some urinary complaints such as frequency or urgency.
These symptoms can occur in a wide variety of disorders, but in ovarian cancer, they become more aggressive and persistent. Women who have persistent form of above symptoms should seek medical consultation as soon as possible.
The tests to evaluate a patient with suspected ovarian cancer include the following:
Full medical, drug, gynecological, and family history,
Full physical examination,
CA-125 level in blood,
Transvaginal ultrasound for the abdomen,
The definitive diagnosis is made using an invasive diagnostic procedure such as taking biopsy via laparoscopy or surgery.