Last updated date: 19-Oct-2022
Originally Written in English
Ovary refers to the female reproductive glands that release the eggs or the ova. These ovaries also produce female hormones known as progesterone and estrogen. However, they are sometimes susceptible to various health conditions, including cancer or tumor.
Ovarian tumor is a chronic and life-threatening condition affecting most women globally. It occurs when abnormal cells in the ovary grow and multiply uncontrollably, forming a tumor. If the issue is not diagnosed and treated sooner, it could spread or metastasize to various parts of the body.
Types of Ovarian Tumor
Typically, the ovaries comprise three types of cells, and cancer can start in any of these cells. This means that the types of ovarian cancer can be determined based on the affected cells. They include;
Epithelial tumors: These start within the thin layer of tissue covering the outer parts of the ovaries. It’s the most common type of ovarian cancer, and approximately 90 percent of women are usually diagnosed with this condition.
Stromal tumors: These start within the ovarian tissue that produces hormones. They are usually detected during the early stage, unlike ovarian tumors. Approximately 7 percent of women suffer from stromal tumors.
Germ cell tumors: These start within the cells that produce the eggs. Germ cell tumors are usually rare and mainly develop in young women.
Causes of Ovarian Tumor
The actual causes of ovarian tumors are not clear. However, medical experts have indicated a few factors that can raise the risks of developing the disease.
Overall, ovarian cancer starts when there are errors in the DNA of the cells (mutation). These mutations trigger the rapid growth and multiplication of cells, forming a mass or tumor of abnormal cells. These abnormal cells can survive in a human body even if the healthy cells die. With time, they spread to the surrounding tissues and other body organs.
Signs and Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer
The ovarian tumor symptoms are usually similar to those of other common diseases. Sometimes, they appear and disappear within a relatively short period. Due to this, it’s easy for most women to overlook the early signs and symptoms of this condition.
However, some of the symptoms you need to watch out for include;
- Abdominal swelling and bloating
- Unexplainable weight loss
- Feeding problems and getting full faster when eating
- Increased or frequent urge to urinate
- Changes in the bowel habits, including constipation
- Discomfort around the pelvis region
Sometimes, ovarian cancer can trigger other signs and symptoms, including;
- Back pain
- Menstruation irregularities
- Pain during sexual intercourse
In most cases, these signs and symptoms can develop due to various underlying reasons. This means that they are not always because of ovarian cancer.
At some point in life, women can also suffer from one or more of these problems. However, they are usually temporary and treatable with simple forms of treatment.
In case the symptoms are a result of ovarian cancer, then they will persist. They will also become more intense as the tumor grows. Cancer would have spread to other parts of the body at this stage, becoming difficult to treat.
Therefore, it's essential to seek immediate medical attention if you experience any unusual symptoms or suspect a tumor. This is because early diagnosis and treatment increase the chances of a successful recovery.
Risk Factors of Ovarian Tumor
Some of the factors that increase the risks of developing ovarian tumor are;
Age: While ovarian tumors can affect women of all ages, it’s more common among older women aged 50 to 60.
Family history of similar condition: Women with close relatives who have had or are suffering from ovarian cancer are at a higher risk of developing a similar disease.
Inherited genetic mutation: Sometimes, the ovarian tumor develops as a result of gene mutation inherited from the parents.
Estrogen hormone replacement therapy: This increases the risk of ovarian tumors, especially if used for a more extended period and larger doses.
Age when menstruation commences and ends: A person who starts menstruation at an early age or begins menopause later is at a higher risk of suffering ovarian cancer.
Diagnosing Ovarian Tumor
To diagnose ovarian tumor, doctors often perform a number of tests and procedures such as;
Pelvic exam: Doctors perform this procedure by putting gloved fingers inside the vagina and at concurrently pressing the abdomen to feel the pelvic organs. This method also enables the doctors to visually examine external parts of the vagina, cervix, and genitals.
Blood tests: The doctor can perform blood tests, including organ function tests, to check your overall health state. They can also run some blood tests to check tumor markers that signify ovarian tumors. Although these tests don’t show if you have the disease, it provides clues regarding diagnosis and prognosis.
Imaging tests: Doctors use various imaging tests, including CT scans and ultrasound on the pelvis and abdomen. This enables them to determine the structure, shape, and size of the ovaries.
Surgical procedure: Sometimes, the doctor can recommend surgery to confirm if you have a tumor. They can remove the ovary to test it for cancer signs further.
If the doctor confirms that you have an ovarian tumor, they will use the acquired information from the procedures and tests to determine the stage of cancer. These stages are usually indicated with roman numbers and ranges from I to IV. The lowest stage often suggests that the tumor is still within the ovaries. On the other hand, stage IV shows that cancer has metastasized to other parts of the body.
Treating Ovarian Tumor
The treatment for ovarian cancer usually depends on the types, extend and stage. It can involve a combination of options such as;
The surgical procedure to address ovarian tumor include;
Surgery to eliminate one ovary: Doctors recommend this method during the early stage when cancer has not spread to other parts. It’s a procedure to remove the affected ovary as well as the fallopian tube. It can also preserve a woman’s capability to have offspring.
Surgery to remove both ovaries: Sometimes, the doctor can recommend the removal of both ovaries and fallopian tubes. This is if the tumor has affected both ovaries and there aren’t any signs of more tumors. However, this method leaves the uterus intact. Hence, you can still get pregnant using your frozen eggs, embryos, or the eggs from another donor.
Surgery to eliminate both ovaries and the uterus: This involves the removal of ovaries, the uterus, fallopian tubes, and the surrounding lymph nodes or fatty abdominal tissue. It’s usually done if the condition is more intense and extensive. Alternatively, it can be done if you do not want to preserve the ability to have children.
Surgery to treat advanced cancer: In case the tumor is highly developed, the doctor can recommend chemotherapy treatment followed by surgical procedures. This is to eliminate as much of the tumor as possible.
Chemotherapy treatment involves using a particular drug to destroy the rapidly growing cancerous cells within the body. These drugs can be administered through direct injection into the vein or orally through the mouth. At times, doctors can directly inject the drugs into the abdomen, a process known as intraperitoneal chemotherapy.
Chemotherapy can be used after a surgical procedure to destroy any cancerous cells that remain. In other cases, it can be used before the operation.
Targeted therapy involves the use of medications that target certain body parts with tumors. It’s a reserved treatment option for addressing ovarian tumor that comes back after previous treatment. It can also be used to treat cancer that resists other forms of treatment.
How to Prevent Ovarian Tumor
There are no specific and certain ways of preventing ovarian cancer or eliminating the risks of acquiring the tumor. Instead, you can consider some effective measures that help reduce the risk of developing ovarian cancer. They include;
Using birth control pills: Usually, people who use oral contraceptives have limited risks of developing ovarian tumors. However, oral contraceptives carry several health risks; hence it's essential to discuss this with your doctor before using them.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding: Most women who have given birth to at least one child, particularly before 30, usually have reduced risks of developing ovarian tumors. In addition, women who breastfeed their children have a limited chance of developing ovarian tumors.
Practice a healthy lifestyle: Certain lifestyle choices can trigger ovarian tumors. Therefore, you should avoid using or being exposed to tobacco products as this can increase the risks of ovarian tumors and other associated conditions. Doctors also recommend reducing alcohol intake to at least three drinks in a week.
Ovarian tumor is one of the most chronic and fetal health condition affecting women of all ages. It develops in one or both ovaries that usually release the eggs and spread to various parts of the body. It’s, however, treatable and preventable if diagnosed during the early stages.
CloudHospital specializes in diagnosing, treating, managing, and preventing ovarian cancer in all women. It works with a number of medical experts who have years of experience in addressing such health conditions. Furthermore, they utilize advanced equipment to ensure a successful treatment and recovery.