Ovarian cancer is a cancer that occurs when there is uncontrolled growth of the cells lining the ovaries, fallopian tubes or the peritoneum near the ovaries. It is a rare gynecological tumor, but generally has a poor prognosis, because in most cases it is detected at an advanced stage.
Currently, there are different tests used to detect and diagnose ovarian cancer:
- Imaging tests: transvaginal ultrasound or CT scan.
- Blood tests, which are performed with specific markers of the disease such as CA-125.
The main symptoms of ovarian cancer
One of the main problems with this type of cancer is the lack of specific or concrete symptoms. Thus, the absence of these symptoms does not alert the patient to see a doctor at an early stage of the disease.
In this sense, in most cases, the symptoms begin to be felt once the disease has already spread.
The most frequent symptoms of ovarian cancer are:
- Abdominal swelling
- Abdominal pain
- Pelvic pain
- Difficulty swallowing food
- Feeling the need to urinate constantly
In addition to these symptoms, other signs may also appear, such as the following:
- Stomach problems
- Back pain
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Changes in the menstrual period
It is common for these symptoms to be caused by other pathologies, but if they occur regularly it is essential that the patient makes an appointment with a specialist to rule out possible ovarian cancer.
Life expectancy with ovarian cancer
If ovarian cancer is diagnosed early, 94% of patients manage to live more than 5 years. The problem is that only 20% of ovarian cancer cases are detected in the early stages. For this reason, it is important to recognize the symptoms of ovarian cancer and to visit the gynecologist for regular check-ups.
Ovarian, uterine and cervical cancer: differences
People often confuse ovarian cancer with uterine cancer and cervical cancer. All three cancers are located in the female reproductive system. However, there are a number of differences between them.
Uterine cancer refers to cases in which the pathology has its origin in the endometrium, that is, in the inner walls of the uterus. Most cases of uterine cancer are diagnosed at an early stage, so treatment offers a high probability of survival. The diagnosis of uterine cancer is made by endometrial biopsy and pelvic MRI. And treatment usually involves surgery to remove the uterus, the ovaries and, in some cases, the lymph nodes near the uterus. Radiotherapy and chemotherapy may be necessary after the operation.
Cervical cancer occurs when cancer cells are located in the cervix area. Unlike the others, cervical cancer affects young women and is diagnosed by cytology, colposcopy and cervical biopsy. To assess the size of the tumor it is also necessary to perform a pelvic MRI. In this way, it is possible to decide the most appropriate type of treatment. In early cases, treatment consists of surgery to remove the uterus, parametria, ovaries and lymph nodes near the cervix. In more advanced stages, chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments are performed.
Surgery accounts for more than 70% of successful treatment in cancer cases. For this reason, it is essential to see specialists to ensure successful treatment of the pathology.