Ovarian cancer is a formidable adversary that affects women around the world. This insidious disease can strike without warning, making early detection crucial. No one wants to hear the word “cancer” at any point in their lives, but the experts at UAB Medical West are here for you.
Today we’ll dive into ovarian cancer's signs, symptoms, and treatment options. We will also explore what causes ovarian cancer and discuss preventative measures to help you stay informed and protected.
Signs and Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer
Ovarian cancer occurs when abnormal cells in the ovaries grow and divide uncontrollably, forming tumors. These tumors can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Most ovarian cancers are malignant, so early recognition of the signs and symptoms is essential. Here are some of the most common signs and symptoms of Ovarian Cancer:
Persistent bloating is one of the most common early signs of ovarian cancer. If your abdomen feels swollen or more prominent than usual, and this symptom persists for more than a few weeks, it's time to consult a healthcare professional.
2. Pelvic Pain
Women with ovarian cancer may experience persistent pelvic or abdominal pain. This pain is often described as a dull, aching sensation.
3. Changes in Urination
Be vigilant if you notice changes in your urinary habits, such as increased urgency or frequency. Ovarian cancer can put pressure on the bladder, leading to these symptoms.
4. Difficulty Eating
Ovarian cancer can cause a decreased appetite or feelings of fullness even after eating very little. If you find yourself experiencing unexplained changes in your eating habits, it's worth discussing with your doctor.
Feeling unusually tired or having low energy levels can be a symptom of ovarian cancer. While fatigue can result from various factors, it's worth investigating if it's persistent and unexplained.
6. Unexplained Weight Loss
Ovarian cancer can lead to unintentional weight loss. Consider it a red flag if you shed pounds without changes in your diet or exercise routine.
7. Change in Bowel Habits
Be attentive to any persistent changes in bowel habits, such as diarrhea or constipation. Ovarian cancer can affect the digestive system, leading to these issues.
8. Menstrual Irregularities
Although less common, some women with ovarian cancer may experience changes in their menstrual cycle, such as irregular periods.
Remember that various conditions can cause these symptoms, and having one or more does not necessarily mean you have ovarian cancer. However, if these signs persist for more than a few weeks and seem unusual or unexplained, contact a medical professional at UAB Medical West today.
Ovarian Cancer Treatment
Now that we've explored the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer, it's time to shed light on treatment options. When it comes to ovarian cancer, early detection and prompt intervention are crucial. In this section, we'll delve into the various modalities available for ovarian cancer treatment and help you regain control of your health.
Surgery is the primary treatment for ovarian cancer. It involves removing as much of the cancerous tissue as possible. In some cases, a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) may be necessary.
Following surgery, chemotherapy is often recommended to kill any remaining cancer cells and reduce the risk of recurrence. Chemotherapy drugs can be administered intravenously or orally, depending on the specific treatment plan.
3. Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to target and destroy cancer cells. While it's less common in ovarian cancer treatment, it may be recommended in certain situations.
Immunotherapy is a cutting-edge treatment that harnesses the body's immune system to fight cancer. While still in its experimental stages for ovarian cancer, it shows promise and may be offered in clinical trials.
5. Hormone Therapy
Hormone therapy is primarily used for rare cases of ovarian cancer that are hormone-sensitive. It aims to block the hormones that fuel cancer growth.
To determine which treatment is best for you, contact our OB/GYNs & oncologists at UAB Medical West today.
What Causes Ovarian Cancer?
While ovarian cancer’s precise origins remain unclear, scientists have identified several risk factors that shed light on this enigmatic disease. In this section, we'll explore several contributing factors of ovarian cancer. By understanding these elements, you can empower yourself to understand your risk and take proactive measures.
- Age: Ovarian cancer is more common in older women, with the highest risk in those over 50.
- Family History: A family history of ovarian, breast, or colon cancer can increase your risk.
- Reproductive Factors: Women who have never been pregnant or had their first child after age 35 may have an increased risk.
- Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT): Long-term use of estrogen-only HRT, especially after menopause, may raise the risk of ovarian cancer.
- Endometriosis: Women with endometriosis, a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus, have an elevated risk.
- Obesity: Being overweight or obese may increase the risk of ovarian cancer.
- Talcum Powder: Some studies suggest a possible link between talcum powder use in the genital area and ovarian cancer, but more research is needed to establish a definitive connection.
Ovarian cancer is a formidable opponent but can be treated effectively with early detection. Recognizing the signs and symptoms, understanding your risk factors, and taking preventative measures are crucial to protecting yourself. If you suspect you may be at risk or are experiencing any concerning symptoms, the best thing to do is contact our OB/GYNs & oncologists at UAB Medical West in Birmingham, AL, today.
Get Screened for Ovarian Cancer Today
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