with most cancers, ovarian cancer rarely produces symptoms in its earliest stages,
however, these warning signs eventually develop -
disturbances, such as mild
indigestion, bloating, feeling of
fullness, or loss of appetite.
diarrhoea, constipation, or increased urination.
pain or swelling in the
abdomen, or pain in the lower back.
vaginal bleeding between
menstrual periods or after menopause.
Symptoms of advanced ovarian
cancer include severe nausea, vomiting, pain, and weight loss.
Beside the uterus are the two
ovaries, each only the size of an almond, which produce eggs and female hormones. The
ovaries may develop abnormal growths such as cysts- these are always benign, as are many
ovarian tumours. It can occur at any age, even in childhood, but is most common after
Like most cancers, ovarian
cancer is very rarely detected in its early stages and has to spread significantly before
diagnosed. It is imperative that the cancer is detected as early as possible.
It is reported, that most
women who suffer from ovarian cancer have no family history of the disease, yet a woman is
more susceptible to the disease if her mother or sister has had ovarian, breast, or
uterine cancer. Other factors which may increase a womans vulnerability to the
not having any or many
delaying having children
until the thirties or over
having trouble conceiving
a diet of saturated fats -
these foods contain oestrogen which allows ovarian cancers to grow faster.
Women who have several
children, who breast-feed their infants, or who use birth-control pills are at less of a
risk. This may be because these women ovulate less frequently.
Annual pelvic examinations
help detect ovarian cancer early.
See Cancer for further
information about some of the conventional treatment options below.
Surgery is usually the
treatment given for ovarian cancer. Normally, the two ovaries and the other reproductive
organs are removed. If the woman is young and has only a small tumour in one ovary, she
may have just the diseased ovary removed. The second can be removed later to prevent
In many patients, cancer
remains after surgery. Most patients receive chemotherapy then, which can prolong survival
and may result in cure. Once remission occurs, follow-up examinations are essential.
Creating a healthy immune
system is vitally important for all people with cancer. Get plenty of regular exercise,
enough sleep, and essential vitamins and minerals by eating fresh fruits and vegetables.
Cut down on dairy products, meats, and other high-fat foods.
Various herbs with
demonstrated immune-enhancing properties may complement standard treatment, but check with
your doctor before using them.
Antioxidants have been touted
as a possible prevention aid for cancer.
If you are in the high-risk
category for ovarian cancer, ask your doctor about current recommendations for routine
blood screening. For women at extremely high risk, a doctor may recommend having the
ovaries removed to prevent the diseases.
When to seek further