September is Gynecological Cancer Awareness Month

Let’s Learn About Ovarian Cancer, A Silent Killer

Ovarian cancer is the most insidious cancer of the female reproductive system since it is very difficult to detect in early stage. Though ovarian cancer accounts for only 3% of all cancers in women, it is still the third most common cancer in women after breast and cervical cancers. There were 4,818 cases of ovarian cancer in India between 2012 and 2014 according to a study reported by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

Fifty percent of all ovarian cancer patients were in the age group 45 to 65. The same report estimated that the number of ovarian cancer patients may rise to 36,200 by 2020. These appalling statistics point out to the dire need to make ovarian cancer awareness a top priority for the health care industry, government agencies, and the general public.

Causes of Ovarian Cancer

There are no discernible causes of ovarian cancer. However some factors are associated with the disease and are known to increase the risk such as: family history of cancer, older age, genetics mutation of a specific gene (BRCA 1 & BRCA 2), personal history of breast, uterine or colon cancer, obesity, use of fertility treatments medications and lack of pregnancy.

Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer

The main reason ovarian cancer is so lethal is that it rarely manifests any symptoms in its early stages making early detection impossible. It can be diagnosed only after cancer has spread to the pelvis and abdomen.

You can protect yourself by learning how to recognize the symptoms such as tummy bloating /pain/pressure, feeling full even with small meals, pressure symptoms such as frequency of micturation / constipation, feeling tired and unexplained weight loss.

When symptoms do appear they can be easily mistaken for other, non-threatening conditions such as gastritis. Hence, when these symptoms occur, most women do not relate them to ovarian cancer, but no symptom should be ignored or overlooked, especially if it has lasted a long time or is getting worse.

Treatment for Ovarian Cancer

Treatment depends on the stage of the disease. Your doctor will discuss and determine a treatment plan depending on your stage. It will mostly include surgery/chemotherapy.

Preventing Ovarian Cancer

There is no way to actually prevent ovarian cancer but there are many steps that one can take to decrease the risk. Certain factors have been associated with a lower risk of developing ovarian cancer like the usage of oral contraceptives, getting pregnant and breastfeeding. However, since older women are more prone to develop ovarian cancer, the best thing to do is to be screened at regular intervals by your doctor. This is the best way to ensure an early and timely diagnosis.

Spreading Awareness

September has been deemed as the gynecological cancer awareness month so that people actively indulge in activities that spread awareness about this silent killer. You can do your bit by being aware of yourself and telling others what you just read in this article. So, let’s start helping each other by spreading awareness.