Indian Time - A Voice from the Eastern Door

September is Ovarian Cancer Month


What is Ovarian Cancer?

Ovarian Cancer is a cancer that starts in the cells of the ovary or ovaries. The ovaries are two small oval shaped organs that lie deep in the pelvis on either side of the uterus (womb). The ovaries produce the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. These hormones help control reproduction and sexual development. As a woman ages and reaches menopause, the ovaries produce less of these hormones and her periods gradually stop.

Types of Ovarian Cancer

There are three types of ovarian cancers. The first type is the Epithelial cell cancer and is the most common type of ovarian cancer. Epithelial cell cancer starts in the cells that cover the outer surface of the ovary. The second type of ovarian cancer is the Germ cell tumors which start in the egg cells within the ovary and generally occur in younger women. The third type of ovarian cancer is the Stromal tumors which start in the connective tissue cells that hold the ovary together. Since Epithelial cell cancer is the most common, the information regarding ovarian cancer will focus on that type.

Causes of Ovarian Cancer

There is no single cause of ovarian cancer, but the following are factors that may increase a woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer. These risk factors include:

• Age – particularly after 50.

• Personal history of cancer – a woman who had breast or uterine cancer is at higher risk for developing ovarian cancer.

• Family history of ovarian, breast, colon, uterine, or pancreatic cancer.

• Never having been pregnant.

• Taking hormone replacement therapy.

• Smoking.

• Exposure to asbestos.

Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer

In the early stages, ovarian cancer does not cause any symptoms. The symptoms that may occur at a later stage of ovarian cancer may include:

• Pressure or pain in the abdomen, pelvis, back, or legs.

• Swelling of the abdomen.

• Nausea.

• Gas, bloating or indigestion.

• Unusual vaginal bleeding.

• Fatigue.

• Shortness of breath.

• Constipation or diarrhea.

Diagnosing Ovarian Cancer

Once you have seen your doctor, he/she may perform a number of tests to diagnose if you have ovarian cancer.

These tests may include:

• A physical examination.

• Medical and family history.

• Imaging studies which will show the size of the tumor and if it has spread (x-rays, ultrasound, CT scans or MRI).

• Blood tests – which will show how well your organs are working and may suggest whether or not you have cancer.

• Biopsy – cells are removed from the body and checked under a microscope. This reveals how fast the cancer cells are growing and guides treatment.

Treatments for Ovarian Cancer

The treatment of ovarian cancer depends on the general health of the patient, as well as the type, stage and grade of the cancer. The treatments available for ovarian cancer may include:

• Surgery – all or part of the tumor and some healthy tissue around the tumor are removed.

• Total abdominal hysterectomy – one or both ovaries, the fallopian tubes and the uterus are removed.

• External beam radiation therapy – a beam of radiation is carefully aimed at the tumor to damage the cells in the path of the beam.

• Internal radiation therapy (brachytherapy) – radioactive material is placed directly into or near the tumor.

• Chemotherapy – drugs that interfere with the ability of the cancer cells to grow and spread, but also damages healthy cells. Chemotherapy may be given in pill form or by injections.

Preventing Cancer

It is very important to remember that cancer is preventable. The following are ways in which you can prevent yourself from developing cancer.

Remember to:

• Be a non-smoker and avoid second hand smoke.

• Keep a healthy body weight by being active and eating healthy.

• Know the risks of alcohol.

• Protect your skin by being safe in the sun and not using tanning beds.

• Get enough vitamin D from the sun, supplements, and your diet.

• Know your body and watch for signs of cancer and report changes to your doctor.

• Get screened and help find cancer early.

• Check your family’s cancer history.

• Raise awareness about cancer prevention in your community.

Call Community Health for more info: 613-575-2341 ext. 3225.


Reader Comments


Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2018