Ovarian cancer refers to any cancerous growth that begins in the ovary.Ovaries are the almond shaped part of female reproductive system, one on each side of the uterus. The ovaries produces eggs as well as the hormones estrogen and progesterone.
Ovarian cancer often goes undetected until it has spread within the pelvis and abdomen. At this stage, ovarian cancer is more difficult to treat. Early-stage ovarian cancer, in which the disease in confined to the ovary, is more likely to be treated successfully.
The type of cell where the cancer begins determines the type of ovarian cancer you have.
Ovarian cancer type includes –
• Epithelial Tumors
It begins in the thin layers of tissue that covers the outside of the ovaries. About 90% of ovarian cancers are epithelial tumors.
• Stromal Tumors
It begins in the ovarian tissue that contains hormone- producing cells. These tumors are usually diagnosed at an earlier stage than other ovarian tumors. About 7% of ovarian tumors are stromal.
• Germ cell Tumors
It begins in the egg-producing cells. These rare ovarian cancers tend to occur in younger women.
Most ovarian cancer start in the epithelium or outer lining, of the ovary. Early stage ovarian cancer rarely causes few or no symptoms.
Advanced stage ovarian cancer may cause few and nonspecific symptoms that are often mistaken for more common benign conditions such as premenstrual syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, or a temporary bladder problem. However, in ovarian cancer, the symptoms will persist and worsen.
Early symptoms of ovarian cancer may include –
• Abdominal bloating or swelling
• Changes in bowel habits, such as constipation
• Pain in the back or abdomen
• Pain or pressure in the pelvis
• Unexpected vaginal bleeding
• Changes in urination patterns, such as more frequent urination
Some more symptoms that could add discomfort of the patient includes –
• Nausea and indigestion
• Appetite loss
• Weight loss
If any of these symptoms last for 2 weeks or more, a person should see a doctor.
It is not clear what causes ovarian cancer, though doctors have identified factors that can increase the risk of the disease.
In general, cancer begins when a cell develops errors (mutations) in its DNA. The mutations tell the cell to grow and multiply quickly, creating a mass (tumor) of abnormal cells. The abnormal cells continue living when healthy cells would die. They can invade nearby tissues and break off from an initial tumor to spread elsewhere in the body (metastasize).
Risk Factors –
Factors that can increase your risk of developing ovarian cancer includes –
• Older age
Ovarian cancer can occur at any age but is most common in women ages 50 to 60 years.
• Family histroy of ovarian cancer
People with two or more relatives with ovarian cancer have an increased risk of the disease.
• Age when menstruation started and ended
Beginning menstruation at an early age or starting menopause at a later age, or both, may increase the risk of ovarian cancer.
• Reproductive history
Having had one or more full term pregnancies is associated with a lower risk of ovarian cancer. The more pregnancies a woman has, the lower the risk seems to be. Breast feeding may also lower the risk.
• Estrogen replacement therapy
Especially with long term use and in large doses.
• Obesity and overweight
Ovarian cancer is more common in people with a body mass index (BMI) of over 30.
• Inerited gene mutations
A small percentage of ovarian cancers are caused by gene mutations you inherit from your parents. The genes known to increase the risk of ovarian cancer are called breast cancer gene 1 (BRCA 1) and breast cancer gene 2 (BRCA 2).
If a health care professional diagnoses ovarian cancer, they need to determine the stage and grade to decide on a treatment plan.
The stage refers to how far the cancer has spread.
Cancer cells affect only the ovaries or fallopian tubes and have not spread elsewhere.
Cancer has spread to nearby organs, such as the pelvis, colon or rectum.
Cancer is present elsewhere in the body. If now affects other organs, such as the lungs or liver.
Getting an early diagnosis usually means that treatment can be more effective. However, other factors are also their to affect the treatment.
If routine screening or symptoms suggests that a person may have ovarian cancer, a doctor will typically –
• ask the person about their personal and family medical history
• carry out a pelvic examination
They may also recommend –
• Blood Tests
These tests will check for high levels of a marked called CA-125.
• Imaging Tests
Examples include a transvaginal ultrasound, an MRI scan, or a CT scan.
Treatment will depend on many factors, including –
• the type, stage and grade of the cancer
• the individual’s age and overall health
• their personal preferences
• accessibility and affordability of treatment
Options tend to include –
The choice will depend on the type of cancer and how far it has spread. Surgical options include a hysterectomy, removing one or both ovaries, and removing affected Iymph nodes.
These drugs aim to kill cancer cells. If a person takes chemotherapy drugs by mouth or as an injection or infusion, they will affect the whole body.
• Targeted therapy
Some treatment target specific cells that help promote cancer growth. e.g. monoclonal antibodies therapy and angiongenesis inhibitors. Targeted therapy aims to limit the adverse effects.
• Radiation therapy
This technique uses X-rays to kills cancer cells. One way to do this is by introducing a radioactive liquid into the peritoneum. This may help people with advanced ovarian cancer.
This aims to boost the immune system’s ability to defend the body against cancer. Vaccine therapy involves injecting substances that will find and kill a tumor.
Ayurvedic Perspective –
In Ayurveda cancers are known as Arbuda which means the mass of cancer cells which stick together and shown uncontrolled growth of malignant cells.Cancer includes the involvement of vitiated Kapha, pitta and vata dosha. Cancer cells cause imbalances in Agni (Biological fire), Sapta dhatus (body tissues), Srotamsi (Channels of the body), and Sata kriyakala (involvement of generic sequence).
Beneficial Herbs –
• Kanchnar Gugglu
• Vridhivadhika Vati
• Chandraprabha Vati
• Punarnava Mandur
• Heerak Bhasm
• Shila Sindoor
• Tamra Bhasm
• Aswagandha Churna
• Suvarna malini vasant
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