What You Need to Know About Ovarian Cancer
Wondering who’s at risk for ovarian cancer? You’re not alone. Let’s review some of the facts. According to the American Cancer Society, only 3% of women are affected by this disease, but it can be quite harmful to those who are diagnosed. The best way to prevent the disease is early detection. Ovarian cancer can form in many different ways, but there are routine steps you can take to protect yourself. Let’s take a closer look.
What is Ovarian Cancer?
For starters, you can find an ovary on either side of your uterus within your pelvis. Your ovaries are responsible for producing eggs, which aid in reproduction. They also provide the hormones known as estrogen and progesterone. Ovarian cancer is only found in women because it forms in the female ovaries. Cancer can form in one or both ovaries.
The 3 Types of Ovarian Cancer
Your ovaries have three distinct cells where tumors have the ability to form:
Epithelial tumors: Think outer surface of the ovary. These tumors are also sometimes referred to as carcinomas. This type of tumor makes up for around 85 to 90% of ovarian cancer. It often spreads to the pelvis and stomach area after attacking the ovaries.
Germ tumors: Think cells that produce eggs. Fewer than 2% of ovarian cancer cases are diagnosed as germ tumors.
Stromal tumors: Think structural tissue of the ovary that’s responsible for producing estrogen and progesterone. This type is very rare, only around 1% of those diagnosed with ovarian cancer have this form. It’s most commonly found in women 50 and older.
Often these tumors, once spotted, are classified as benign; however, any form of malignant (cancerous) tumor in the ovaries can spread to other places in the body. These tumors should be monitored closely by a doctor.
What are the Signs?
Symptoms such as bloating, pain in your pelvis or abdomen, feeling full easily, or issues with frequent urination are common signs that can lead to ovarian cancer.
For early stage ovarian cancer, there are no major symptoms. If you are postmenopausal, your risk for ovarian cancer increases. At this time, there are no direct causes for ovarian cancer.
If you are experiencing symptoms for a long time or are due for a well-woman visit, you should contact your OB/GYN right away.
Your doctor will start by administering a pelvic exam and will guide you from there.
What Can I Do?
An astonishing 94% of women who spot ovarian cancer early end up, on average, living well beyond their diagnosis. To catch the disease early, you should visit your OB/GYN annually. Pelvic exams are the best way to detect if something abnormal is taking place.
Remember there are very few noticeable symptoms in the early stages of ovarian cancer, that’s why it’s important to monitor your health by scheduling routine checkups with your doctor.