A brief about Ovarian Cancer
Most often, Ovarian Cancer is overshadowed and overlooked by other cancers which makes every female vulnerable to it. There are several ovarian cancer types. The ovarian cancer in women is frequently hard and almost impossible to detect until it spreads to the abdomen and pelvic regions.
What are the types of Ovarian cancer?
Ovarian epithelial cancer
Almost every epithelial ovarian tumor is benign (not highly harmful). The most commonly affected is ovarian epithelial carcinoma. About 90% of ovarian cancers are related to ovarian epithelial cysts. These cancers are usually defined by their subtype- endometrioid, mucinous, undifferentiated, and clear cell. Ovarian epithelial cancer frequently originates in the ovary, thereby spreading to the organs and linings of the abdomen and pelvis. Critical stage ovarian epithelial cancer can spread to liver lungs, bones, brain, and skin. A few of the Ovarian tumors are malignant and occur when irregular tissues grow in the tissue that covers the ovary. These are malignant as these tumors have a minimal chance of developing into cancer. In cases where the tumors grow into cancer, Ovarian Cancer Treatment works well, and cancer does not further spread to other body parts.
Germ cell tumors
2 percent of cancer types are based on germ cell tumors. Tumors may or may not start developing in the egg-producing cells or germ cells. Germ cell tumors are usually benign. Females are most likely to develop this type of cancer in their 20’s. There are three distinctive types of germ cell tumors.
- Endoderm also Sinus tumor– This tumor is the rarest type of ovarian cancer and often originates in the placenta. Choriocarcinomas occur during pregnancies and are frequent in the ovaries.
- Dysgerminoma ovarian germ cell cancer– This cancer typically occurs rarely but is the most occurring germ cell ovarian cancer. Dysgerminomas don’t rapidly spread to other parts of the body but can usually reach the nervous system.
- Teratomas– Teratomas are distinctive types of germ cell tumors that originate as cancerous or benign. Cancerous teratomas occur rarely and contain tissues of muscle, hair, and bone.
Sex cord-stromal tumors
Sex cord tumor or sex cord-gonadal stromal tumor is a rare type that contributes to about 1% of the total ovarian cancers. These tumors originate from the tissue cells of the stroma. These tissues are the chief components that secrete female hormones like progesterone and estrogen. Sex-cord stromal tumors are known to produce an extensive estrogen supply which results in abnormal and irregular vaginal bleeding. Different subtypes of this type of cancer are granulosa cell tumors, sertoli-Leydig tumors, and granulosa-theca tumors.
Other ovarian cancers
Regardless of the above-mentioned types of ovarian cancer, three types of rarely occurring cancers contribute to about 3% of the total cancers in females.
- Ovarian sarcoma– Ovarian sarcoma tumors usually grow in the ovarian cells, specifically the connective tissues. They have 4 subtypes- Angiosarcomas, leiomyosarcomas, carcinosarcomas, and fibrosarcomas.
- Ovarian cysts- Ovarian cysts grow inside the ovary and are filled with fluid sacs. These frequently occur during ovulation and don’t require treatment. These cysts rarely develop into cancer and usually go away on their own.
- Krukenberg tumors- Kruckenberg tumors are types that reach the ovaries from external organs like the gastrointestinal tract. This cancer type isn’t very critical and can be treated with basic methodologies.
Recurrent Ovarian Cancer
Recurrent Ovarian cancer develops when malignant cells start reappearing after curing cancer. Recurrent ovarian cancer isn’t staged and can occur after days or months after the cancer treatment. Moreover, it can return to the original or any other location. Ovarian cancer frequently reoccurs when a limited number of cancer cells survive cancer treatment. These cancer cells usually survive the surgery or chemotherapy processes and tend to multiply after recurrence. This can occur anytime after the treatment and is not easy to detect. Every patient encounters different symptoms and the typical locations where recurrent ovarian cancer occurs are pelvis and abdomen, intestines, near the bladder, urinary tract, and gastrointestinal tract.
What are the symptoms and signs of Ovarian Cancer?
- Loss of appetite
- Feeling of fullness
- Abdominal inflammation
- Constant need for urination
- Weight loss
- Pain while menstruating
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pain in the pelvis region
What are the causes of Ovarian cancer?
Risk factors involved in Ovarian cancer
- Age: Age is a crucial factor that causes this. About two-thirds of females aged 55 or above are diagnosed with this cancer.
- Inherent Gene mutations: About 20% of cases related to this type of cancer comprise high-grade crucial tumors that are potentially developed through inherited mutations with conferred risk. Most reputed cancer specialists recommend every woman to take relative scanning tests in their 50’s.
- Menstrual age: Females whose menstruation begins at an earlier age or menopause stage arises later than usual have an enhanced risk of developing this.
- Estrogen hormone replacement therapy: Females utilizing long-term use and extended dosages of hormone replacement therapy have a likelihood of developing ovarian cancer.
- Family history: The risk of developing ovarian cancer is enhanced in females with a first-degree family member that has a history of ovarian cancer. About 70% of women with a family history have the likelihood of developing ovarian cancer. Cancer susceptibility genes play a vital role in the development of ovarian cancer.
- Fertility drugs: Long-term utilization of fertility drugs can be harmful. Many studies suggest that there is an increased association between ovarian cancer and fertility drugs. However, more evidence is required to support this statement.
- Obesity: Obesity is one of the limiting factors that increase the risk of obtaining epithelial ovarian cancer. Women who have never been prescribed menopausal hormones have an increased risk of epithelial ovarian cancer.
- Smoking and excessive drinking: Studies have reported that the usage of tobacco and excessive drinking enhances the risk of developing mucinous ovarian cancer. About 80% of the ovarian tumors are developed due to smoking.
- Diet: Countless studies have reported a link between food and ovarian cancer. Physical inactivity and unhealthy food have a compressive association with more than 30% of epithelial ovarian cancer cases.
How to prevent Ovarian cancer?
- Utilize birth control pills: Consult your doctor whether utilizing birth control pills can benefit you. Studies suggest that many women that make use of contraceptive pills have a lowered risk of obtaining ovarian cancer. However, contraceptives may or may not be beneficial for different individuals.
- Consult your doctor: Females with a family history of ovarian or breast cancer should consult their doctor and undergo specific tests to minimize the chance of getting it.
Diagnosis for ovarian cancer
- Imaging tests– Ultrasound, CT scan, and similar imaging tests help in detecting abnormalities in the pelvis and abdomen, thereby detecting the shape, structure, and size of the ovaries. The best ovarian cancer hospital follows an analytic method that requires the patient to bend in different angles to detect irregularities accurately.
- Pelvic exam- Ovarian doctors follow a precise procedure while doing a pelvic exam. The doctor chiefly inserts the gloved finger into the vagina, thereby steadily pressing the hand on the abdomen for palpating your pelvic organs. The doctor may or may not visually analyze the vagina, external genitalia, and cervix.
- Surgery- In rare cases, doctors are uncertain of the diagnosis and require doing surgery. This surgery involves removing an ovary for testing it to detect cancerous cells and symptoms.
- Blood tests- Blood test is a common method to diagnose. It usually involves testing the functioning of different organs for analyzing the overall health of the patient. Your doctor can even take a blood sample to determine indications of potential ovarian tumors.
Treatment for various stages of Ovarian cancer
Chemotherapy, in a nutshell, is a distinctive drug therapy that utilizes different chemicals for mitigating and killing rapidly-developing cancer cells in the body. Chemotherapy drugs are either taken through pills or are injected into your veins. Chemotherapy may or may not be used before cancer surgery.
Target therapy is the process of utilizing specific medications used for affecting different vulnerabilities of the cancer cells. Target therapy drugs are chiefly utilized for recurrent cancers or the cancerous cells that reappear after finishing the cancer treatment. Doctors fundamentally test the cancer cells present in your body for the determination of the targeted therapy you require. Targeted therapy is a new and uncertain concept which is being utilized in several clinical trials.
The fundamental purpose of surgery is to remove the cancerous cells and the affected parts of the body.
- Removing the affected ovary– Patients with earlier stages typically have to remove one of the ovaries. Early stage do not spread past the ovary and can be removed through surgery. The surgery involves removing the ovary that is affected, and the fallopian tube. This procedure can also affect your ability to get pregnant.
- Removing both the ovaries– Cancer at critical stages can spread to both the ovaries. However, moderate stages don’t spread beyond both the ovaries. In such cases, the surgeon will have to eliminate both the ovaries from your body, along with the Fallopian tubes.
- Removing the uterus and the ovaries– In cases where the cancer is located in both the ovaries and has spread further to the uterus, your surgeon will have to eliminate the Fallopian tubes, the uterus, and the ovaries. In such cases, one won’t be able to conceive. The surgeon might also remove the surrounding lymph nodes and omentum.
- Advanced surgery– Last or highly advanced cancers are required to undergo complicated and advanced surgery with a blend of chemotherapy.
Ovarian cancer staging
- Stage I
Stage I cancer can be detected in both the ovaries. It is further divided into Stage IA, IB, and IC. Cancer can be detected in a single ovary or both the ovaries. About 15% of the total ovarian cancer is diagnosed with this stage . In rare cases, cancer can be located on the outer surge of the ovaries, outer ovary covering, and organs such as the abdomen.
Stage I ovarian cancer has a survival rate of about 90%. Studies suggest that about 72.4% of women live for more than a year after the cancer diagnosis. The common treatments of Stage I are lymph nodes biopsy, hysterectomy, SLNB medication, salpingo-oophorectomy (removal of the Fallopian tubes and ovaries), and surgery for removal of abdomen and pelvis tissues. The symptoms of Stage I ovarian cancer are nondescript and mild such as unexplained weakness and fatigueness.
- Stage II
Stage II cancer is usually located in both the ovaries, thereby spreading to different regions of the pelvis. It is divided into Stage IIA, IIB, and IIC. Cancer usually spreads to the uterus, fallopian tubes, pelvis tissues, and ovary coverings. About 19% of the total ovarian cancers are based on Stage II. The survival rate for stage II ovarian cancer is 70% at 5 years. Studies suggest that 3 out of 5 women survive the cancer treatment for at least a year. The common treatments for Stage II ovarian cancer are hysterectomy, bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy, tumor debulking, blood tests for lymph node samples, and appropriate surgeries for the removal of affected organs. Combination radiotherapy and chemotherapy may or may not be the treatments after the surgery. Common ovarian cancer symptoms of stage II cancer are irregular bowel movements, painful sexual intercourse, and unexplained nausea.
- Stage III
Stage III cancer is found in either one of the ovaries or both the ovaries and can potentially spread beyond the pelvis. It can mostly affect the lymph nodes and the abdomen. Moreover, it can spread to crucial organs like the liver. Stage III is divided into Stage IIIA, IIIB, and IIC. The tumor is usually formed in the pelvis, both the ovaries, peritoneum, lymph nodes, liver, and abdomen. About 60% of the total ovarian cancer cases are diagnosed with Stage III. The survival rate of Stage III cancer is 39% at 5 years. 3 out of 4 women diagnosed with ovarian cancer can live for at least a year after the treatment. Treatments for Stage III ovarian cancer are hysterectomy, surgery for removing affected areas like the pelvis tissues, ovaries, and fallopian tubes, and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. Combination chemotherapy is a common procedure after the surgery. Common symptoms of Stage III ovarian cancer are painful sexual intercourse, abnormal bleeding, weight loss, and fatigue.
- Stage IV
Stage IV cancer is a highly risked cancer that spreads past the abdomen to different body parts like the liver and lungs. Cancer cells located in the lung fluid also contribute to Stage IV ovarian cancer. Stage IV cancer has a survival rate of about 17% at 5 years. About 3 out of 4 women survive for at least a year after the treatment. Only 6% of the total number of ovarian cancers are diagnosed with Stage IV. Stage IV cancer treatment solely depends on the criticalness of cancer and usually involves advanced surgery combined with chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Common symptoms of this cancer stage are irregular bowel movements, unexplained fatigue, headaches and backaches, painful sexual intercourse, and abnormal bleeding.
Life in remission
- Hair loss
Hair loss can undeniably take away one’s confidence and self-esteem. Chemotherapy for ovarian cancer treatments has advanced and painful side effects, one of them being hair loss. Many patients experience depression or a sense of embarrassment for losing their hair. Accepting and overcoming the stressful symptoms of ovarian cancer through yoga, meditating, reading inspiring books, and taking care of yourself can help alleviate the stress caused by cancer. If it helps, one can make use of hair wigs to feel more confident and calm.
Most patients experience a feeling of tiredness and weakness after finishing cancer treatment. Due to this weakness, many patients face an extremely difficult time doing their daily activities. Staying hydrated, eating healthy food, and practicing healthy sleeping schedules can help overcome fatigue, thereby feeling strong, healthy, and fit.
- Tingling sensation (neuropathy)
Neuropathy is one of the most common side effects of treatments like chemotherapy. The highly powerful drugs can increase the tingling sensations after the cancer treatment. Distracting yourself by reading books, watching your favorite movies or tv shows, and doing mild physical activities can help calm the tingling sensations.
Ovarian cancer and its treatment can affect the patient mentally. Studies suggest that most patients suffer from depression after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Depression can additionally lead to loss of appetite, short term memory loss, and fatigue. Chemotherapy chiefly weakens the immune system due to which most of these symptoms occur. Staying healthy and doing mind-easing workouts every day can help and make you feel better.
Diarrhea, vomiting and nausea, decreased libido, urinary incontinence, fear of recurrence, heavy bleeding, mouth sores, irregular menstrual cycles, and trouble sleeping are a few of the other side effects that could be experienced after the cancer treatment.
How can ZenOnco.io help you?
- Practice nourishing yourself consistently
Combating ovarian cancer can be extremely challenging. One has to undergo several treatments that can weaken the immune system. Thus, nourishing yourself consistently is highly beneficial for staying healthy in the long-run. Aim to balance a healthy weight by eating nutrition-rich foods that are high in proteins, vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and carbohydrates. If it helps, eat small meals throughout the day to avoid nausea and vomiting.
- Exercise and stay fit
Although rigorous workouts are a no, there is no harm in doing mild exercises daily. Consult your doctor to understand the right exercises for you and ensure working out at least thrice in a week to stay healthy and boost your mood. Distracting yourself by exercising can not only help you feel relaxed but can also keep your body internally healthy.
- Stay calm and meditate
Meditation and yoga are two of the most beneficial and mind-relaxing activities that you can utilize in this stressful phase. Ovarian cancer can undeniably make you question your confidence. Moreover, it can make your body weak and unfit for doing your daily chores. Start by practicing self-care sessions to calm your mind and body. Spending time with your loved ones can also help you stay mentally calm and composed.
- Cancer-proof your home
Cancer-proofing your home is the most valuable technique of speeding up the process of your cancer treatment. The environment you live in makes a substantial impact on your health. Cancer-proofing your home is thus an excellent and effective solution of sanitizing your home while eliminating different germs and bacteria. A mentally and physically healthy setting can help you combat cancer.
- Get community support
Support from fellow cancer survivors and patients is crucial at any stage of cancer treatment. We want to be there by your side while you combat ovarian cancer. Our community support services aim to bring different cancer patients together while easing your journey. We offer cancer programs that are designed to make your journey a bit less stressful.
Reach out to us to know more about our wellness protocol and get expert guidance to lead a cancer-proof life. Let us help you win this fight against cancer.