Ovarian cancer is a disease that primarily affects older women but can strike younger women as well at any point during their fertile years. You may be at a higher risk for developing ovarian cancer if you:
- Have a family history of ovarian cancer, colorectal cancer, or breast cancer
- Are above the age of 40
- Are overweight or obese
- Have had your first child after the age of 35 or have not had children
- Are on hormone replacement therapy after menopause
Warning signs & symptoms to watch out for include persistent painful cramps in the belly and back, abnormal vaginal bleeding, bloating, and nausea. Unfortunately, ovarian cancer is hard to detect during the early stages of the disease as the symptoms are often mistakenly attributed to less serious conditions.
Women belonging to a high-risk group with suspected symptoms of ovarian cancer may be recommended to have a transvaginal ultrasound and CA-125 blood test. If these tests are positive, a biopsy may be required to confirm the diagnosis.
Treating ovarian cancer requires a multipronged approach. Surgery is usually the first step and is performed to take out as much of the cancer as possible. This may be followed by chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. Chemotherapy involves the use of powerful medications and radiation therapy involves the use of high energy X-rays. Both treatments are performed to destroy the remaining cancer cells that cannot be surgically removed.
There are also innovative new treatments such as targeted therapy and hormone therapy which selectively destroy cancer cells while causing minimal damage to the surrounding healthy tissues of the body.
If you have been experiencing any of the warning signs of ovarian cancer on a regular basis for more than a few weeks, consult your doctor or visit the specialists at North Central Surgical Center. An early diagnosis and prompt treatment will significantly improve your chances of a positive outcome.