As described in an earlier article, cancer is a disease of abnormal cell growth with the potential to invade or spread to another body parts. When this process of development of cancerous cells occurs in ovary then it is ovarian cancer. According to Wikipedia, Globally, as of 2010, about 160,000 people died from ovarian cancer. In addition, it is 5th most common cancer in UK women. Furthermore, it is also the 5th most common cause of cancer death in women.
What is Ovarian Cancer?
Ovarian Cancer is cancer that develops in the ovaries.
Basically, the much of information about any type of cancer depends on two things:
- The body part where it occurs.
- The types of cells present in that body part.
Coming to the first point, the ovary is somewhere around 4 cubic centimetre in size. It is female gonads which produce reproductive cells, to be more precise eggs. The eggs then travel through the fallopian tubes into the uterus where the fertilised egg implants and develops into an unborn offspring. The ovaries are also the source of female hormones such as oestrogen and progesterone. Although generally, women have two ovaries, they can survive with one or no ovary. For the record, men gonads are testicles which produce sperms.
Cancer is a disease of the cells, so any kind of cancer is directly related to the types cell present in that body part. It takes us to our second point i.e. the types of cell present it the ovaries.
The three main kind of cells present in the ovaries are:
- Surface Epithelium cells: Cells that cover the outer surface of the ovary.
- Germ Cells: Cells that produce the eggs.
- Stromal Cells: Cells that produce female hormones and hold the ovary together.
When any kind of cell, not only these three, present in the ovary fails to follow the natural mechanism of developing and growing then they form a tumour. However, these tumours may or may not be cancerous. Non-cancerous tumours are not very active and do not affect any other body tissue. However, cancerous tumours are very active and keep on growing, developing and spreading to other body tissue, through metastasize.
It is really hard to detect ovarian cancer at early stages. It is so because it almost has no or very general signs and symptoms to be diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
Signs and symptoms:
Although it shows very non-specific symptoms at an early stage when it spread to other body parts or grows to advance stages, it shows real signs and symptoms. Some common symptoms are:
- Pain during sex.
- Back pain.
- Pain in Pelvic or abdominal.
- Menstrual changes.
- Bowel habits may change.
- Weight loss without intention.
- Postmenopausal vaginal bleeding.
All the above symptoms are so common that they can misguide a diagnosis approach. For example, symptoms of ovarian cancer may appear similar to irritable bowel syndrome. Therefore it is very important to consult an expert in every case.
The Later stage can show symptoms like an accumulation of fluid in the abdomen and increased abdominal girth. Although these are common ovarian cancer’s symptoms when it comes to the subtype of ovarian cancer, they may differ from case to case.
- According to an estimation, in 2013, almost 195,767 women were cancer patients in the US.
- Not having children is a risk of ovarian cancer.
- After menopause, it is most commonly diagnosed in ages between 60 to 64.
- It is the fourth-most common cause of cancer death for US women.
- In 2014, the incidence rate in developed countries’ women was about 9.4 per 100,000 whereas it was 5.0 per 100,000 in developing countries.