Ovarian Cancer: 5 essential facts you should know — Part one

Ovarian cancer may be rare, but it is considered one of the deadliest cancers for women since it exhibits no symptoms in its early stages. Fortunately, ovarian cancer is treatable, and knowing more about the disease can help save your life.

Since September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, experts at Women’s Care Florida outlined the following five essential facts about ovarian cancer. Take a few moments to review, and make sure to read the follow-up post in part-two about the common treatments for ovarian cancer.

1. Symptoms of ovarian cancer are vague

Ovarian cancer exhibits common symptoms that could indicate one or more health problems — not just ovarian cancer, specifically. The best way to know if you’re at risk is to pay close attention to your body so you know what’s normal for you, and what isn’t. Make an appointment with your OB-GYN if you’ve been experiencing one or more of the following symptoms consistently every month.

Common symptoms of ovarian cancer include:

  • Vaginal bleeding past menopause
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Back pain
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Change in urination frequency and bowel movements

 

2. Early detection can improve your outcome

Ovarian cancer can be effectively treated and reversed when detected early enough. Common tests that can help detect and diagnose ovarian cancer include ultrasound, CT scan, blood tests, and surgery. Contact your OB-GYN to learn more about whether you should take these tests.

3. Ovarian cancer is associated with certain risk factors

Ovarian cancer can affect any woman, regardless of whether ovarian cancer is part of her family history. Make an appointment to be screened for ovarian cancer if you have any of the following risk factors.

Common risk factors for ovarian cancer include:

  • Women who have never been pregnant
  • Women who have uninterrupted ovulation due to infertility treatments
  • Women who started their period at an early age
  • Women who experience menopause later than average
  • Women who smoke

 

4. Surgery can help prevent ovarian cancer

Women at high risk for ovarian cancer can lower their risk substantially by undergoing surgery to have ovaries and fallopian tubes removed. Removing the ovaries can lower ovarian cancer risk by 98 percent, and also lowers the risk for breast cancer. If you are at high risk for ovarian cancer and don’t plan on having more children, talk to your OB-GYN about the possibility of surgery to prevent ovarian cancer.

5. See an ovarian cancer specialist

If you’ve been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, ask your OB-GYN for a referral to an ovarian cancer specialist who can effectively treat your condition. An experienced ovarian cancer specialist can discuss your options for surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and other treatments that can help you overcome and survive cancer.

To learn more about your ovarian cancer risks, contact a specialist at Women’s Care Florida.

Ovarian Cancer: Common treatments — Part two

Cancer is scary. So if you or someone you care about was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, it might help to relieve some stress if you know about the treatments that can effectively address this condition. Treatment for ovarian cancer varies depending on its type and stage, and could combine surgery with chemotherapy.

In honor of Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, Women’s Care Florida experts outline what you need to know about ovarian cancer treatments. If you want to learn more, please read this post about five facts of ovarian cancer.

Surgery

Surgery is currently the most common treatment for most types of ovarian cancer. Surgery allows your doctor to assess the size of the tumor, and determine whether ovarian cancer has spread outside the ovaries to other organs. During the procedure, your doctor removes as much of the tumor as possible from organs affected by the cancer.

Here are organs that may be removed and/or treated surgically for ovarian cancer:

  • Ovaries
  • Uterus
  • Cervix
  • Fallopian tubes
  • Colon
  • Bladder
  • Stomach
  • Spleen
  • Gallbladder
  • Liver
  • Pancreas

 

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy involves the use of medication to kill abnormal cancer cells. If you’ve had surgery to treat ovarian cancer, you may be prescribed chemotherapy drugs that can target your remaining cancer cells more effectively now that the bulk of your tumor has been removed.

You may have to undergo chemotherapy up to six times before ovarian cancer is fully treated, with stages of rest between each treatment.

Chemotherapy can trigger several side effects throughout the course of treatment, including:

  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Fatigue and loss of energy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Rashes on hands and feet
  • Bruising or bleeding more easily after minor injuries
  • Hair loss
  • Mouth sores

 

Other treatments

Your doctor may know of clinical trials or studies for new ovarian cancer treatments that could help improve your condition. Talk to your gynecologist about other available treatments for ovarian cancer.

Click here to learn more about our comprehensive women’s health services that can help treat ovarian cancer.