Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cancer-causing death among women. Ovarian cancer occurs when malignant cells or a growth starts in the ovary. The ovary is a small, almond-shaped organ on either side of the uterus that produces and stores eggs in a woman’s body.
Unfortunately, ovarian cancer is hard to detect in its early stages due to its vague symptoms. Research for a reliable ovarian screening test is still in progress. So, in addition to a complete pelvic exam, the two tests that are used to check for ovarian cancer are a transvaginal ultrasound (TVUS) and the CA-125 blood test. It’s important to maintain wellness and routine exams with your healthcare provider to discuss anything you feel might be unusual. The sooner a disease is detected, the sooner treatment can be started to combat it.
Some symptoms of ovarian cancer that may occur include:
- Pain, pressure or discomfort in the abdomen area
- Abnormal bleeding or discharge from the vagina
- The need to urinate much more frequently than usual
- Chronic, unexplained back pain
- Sudden weight gain or weight loss
If you are noticing any of these symptoms for more than two weeks, it is important to see your healthcare provider right away. It may not necessarily be cancer, but it’s best to get examined. When you do see your doctor, be prepared to share your medical history. Your doctor will most likely administer a pelvic exam to check for any abnormal growths or enlarged organs in the area. Based on the results of your pelvic exam, your doctor will determine if any additional tests are needed, which may include blood and imaging tests.
Treatment for ovarian cancer generally involves surgery and chemotherapy. The goal is to remove or destroy all cancerous cells in the body. Surgery may consist of removing one or both ovaries. If the cancer is extensive, other organs may need to be removed, such as the uterus and fallopian tubes. Chemotherapy may be given before or after surgery. Post-surgical chemo is used to kill any cancer cells that weren’t removed during surgery.
If you have concerns or questions about ovarian cancer, please call us at 307-634-5216.