Structural Biochemistry/Ovarian Cancer
What is Ovarian Cancer?
Ovarian cancer is a type of cancer which abnormal cells begin to grow in one or both of a woman's ovaries. An ovary is a small gland, located on both sides of the uterus; it is known for producing and storing eggs.
Causes of Ovarian Cancer
There is no known cause of ovarian cancer, however researchers know that DNA chances can play a factor into cancer causing cells.
Signs & Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer
In several cases, ovarian cancer is not diagnosed until it is in its later stages. However, the most common symptoms of ovarian cancer are:
- Frequent bloating
- Pelvic or abdominal pain
- Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
- Bloating or swollen belly area
If these symptoms persist daily for more than 2 to 3 weeks, it is best to consult a doctor.
There are other symptoms that occur with ovarian cancer, but are not necessarily a sign of cancer. They consist of:
- Back pain
- Pain with intercourse
- Menstrual cycle changes
Diagnosing Ovarian Cancer
Unfortunately, ovarian cancer is often not detected in it's earlier stages. However, some tests are done if a patient is showing signs of ovarian cancer.
Some exams that are used to diagnose ovarian cancer include:
- Physical exams, including a pelvic exam and a Pap test
- Cancer antigen 125 (CA-125) test to measure amount of protein found on cancer cell surfaces
- Pelvic and transvaginal ultrasounds
- Pelvic or abdominal CT scan or MRI
Treating Ovarian Cancer
At the moment, surgery is used to treat all stages of ovarian cancer. Surgery can involve either:
- Removal of the uterus (hysterectomy)
- Removal of both ovaries and fallopian tubes
- Parital or complete removal of the omentum (the fatty later that covers and cushions the organs in the abdomen)
- Examination, biopsy, or removal of the lymph node and other tissues in the pelvis and abdomen
Surgery in ovarian cancer has been known to show a high succes rate.
Chemotherapy is also an option to treat any remaining cancerous cells after surgery.