What is Ovarian Cancer?
A woman has two ovaries, which are parts of the female reproductive system. Each is the size of a walnut and located at the pelvis on either side of the womb (uterus). The ovaries contain eggs and produce the female hormones, estrogen and progesterone. The ovary is made up of different cells, each performing its own function. When these cells grow abnormally, a cancer is formed. Hence there are many types of ovarian cancers but the most common is called epithelial cell cancer, which arises from the lining of the ovary. In the initial stage, the cancer is confined to the ovary but as it grows bigger, it can spread via the following routes:
Within the abdomen, forming deposits on the intestinal wall, liver capsule and lining of the abdominal cavity.
Lymph glands in the pelvis and abdomen.
Eventually via the blood stream to the lungs and bones.
Are You at Risk?
The following are associated with a high risk of ovarian cancer:
High fat diet
Infertility or not having children until late in life
Early menarche and late menopause
Family history of ovarian, breast or colorectal cancer
Temporary abstinence from sexual intercourse for 6 weeks to allow for normal healing.
If both ovaries are removed, the patient will experience the symptoms of menopause. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may be prescribed to relieve the menopausal symptoms.
Regular check up with blood tests and if necessary, X-rays should be kept with the oncologist.
Patients should resume normal, healthy lifestyles after treatment.