Ovarian cancer kills 15,000 American women every year. Even though it accounts for only three percent of the cancer affecting women, the large mortality rate makes it one of the deadliest cancers that can affect women.
All these factors make it extremely necessary for detecting ovarian cancer early enough for treating it effectively. Detecting ovarian cancer in its early stages is easier said than done. There is a medley of confusing symptoms associated with ovarian cancer that women tend to ignore.
General Symptoms Of Ovarian Cancer
The general symptoms associated with ovarian cancer are pain in the abdomen and pelvic area, digestive problems, stomach upset, bloating and feeling of pressure in the stomach, nausea, fatigue, abnormal bleeding, irregular or missed periods, back pain, frequent urination, constipation, diarrhoea and loss of weight.
Most of these symptoms are absent in the early stages or are present in insignificant amounts so that women do not notice them. Once they start becoming prominent, the cancer is detected.
Mode Of Detection Of Ovarian Cancer
A regular pelvic examination is the first step towards the diagnosis of ovarian cancer. Checking the pelvic region for lumps and swelling will give the doctor an idea about any abnormality in your body. A pelvic examination normally involves feeling the abdomen for lumps and also to check the size of the ovaries.
A basic pelvic examination will reveal if there are any lumps or fluid build up in your abdomen. Your doctor will ask for more tests to be performed if he/she suspects ovarian cancer.
Women who have ovarian cancer are asked to conduct a blood test known as CA- 125. This test analyses the amount of the protein CA -125 that is present in the blood. Presence of this protein in excess is an indication of ovarian cancer. However, for confirmation, you still have to undergo more tests.
Imaging technology like a CT scan or an ultrasound scan can be used for detecting cancerous growth in the ovaries. While an ultrasound scan can be used only for detecting growths in the ovaries, a CT scan can be used for finding out if the growths are cancerous or benign as well. CT scans give clear images from every angle which makes this diagnosis possible. Therefore a CT scan is a more precise way of detecting malignant tumours.
In laparoscopy, which is a minimally invasive surgical procedure, the doctor can not only take a closer look at the tumour and the surrounding organs and tissues, but also help remove the tumour entirely if found to be a malignant one. The device is inserted into the abdominal region by making a small incision and the device with a camera and magnifier is inserted for this purpose.
The tissues that are removed are sent to the laboratory for a biopsy. Getting a biopsy done on the tumour is a sure way of confirming the presence of ovarian cancer. The biopsy will also help the doctor decide as to what stage of cancer the woman suffers from and what treatment method can be adopted for the same.