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How Ovarian Cancer Occurs?

How Ovarian Cancer Occurs

What is ovarian cancer?

Cancer arises when your body’s cells begin to grow abnormally. This can happen anywhere on the body. Ovarian cancer develops when this abnormal development occurs in the ovary. Each side of the uterus contains two ovaries in the female reproductive system.

The ovaries are responsible for the generation of eggs (ova) as well as the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Ovarian cancer comes in numerous types.

The type of ovarian cancer you have is defined by the cell type in which it starts. There are typically no indications of ovarian cancer in its early stages.

What causes ovarian cancer?

Factor that causes ovarian cancer are as follow:

  • Some research suggests that if your BMI is 30 or greater, your risk may increase.
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is an endocrine system disorder that causes enlarged ovaries.
  • Certain kinds of ovarian cancer, such as mucinous ovarian cancer, can be increased by smoking. The greater the risk, the longer you have smoked.
  • Ovarian cancer is most common in women aged 40–65.
  • If a woman in the family has had them, especially a mother or sister, the chance is increased.
  • Fertility medications and hormone replacement therapy – The continuous use of estrogen after menopause can put a woman at risk.
  • Some ovarian cancer patients have a hereditary mutation in one of two genes known as the breast cancer gene 1 (BRCA1) and breast cancer gene 2 (BRCA2) (BRCA2)
  • Lynch syndrome is another set of gene alterations that increases your chance of ovarian cancer.
  • Increased estrogen exposure like no pregnancy, no breast feeding, late menopause increases ovarian cancer risk

What are the Symptoms of ovarian cancer?

symptoms of ovarian cancer may include:

  • You are experiencing pain, discomfort, or bloating in your abdominal and pelvis.
  • Urinary indications such as urgency (the constant feeling that you need to go) or occurrence (having to go often) .
  • Changes in a woman’s menstrual cycle, such as heavier or irregular bleeding.
  • Eating difficulties or early fullness (feeling full quickly).
  • Extreme exhaustion
  • Loss of weight
  • Back or abdominal ache.
  • Feeling any abnormal lumps or notice a growth in the size of your abdomen.
  • Constipation or stomach discomfort
  • Sexual discomfort

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What are genes and what do they have to do with ovarian cancer?

Genes are components of your DNA that serve as the blueprint for your cells to replicate themselves. You are born with certain genetic characteristics. Your genes might be influenced by your family (inherited traits) as well as genetic changes that occur over time.

These modifications are referred to as mutations. Gene mutations are not usually inherited. Your DNA can change throughout time.

HBOC is a hereditary genetic disorder. This indicates that a family’s cancer risk is passed down from generation to generation. The two main genes linked to the majority of HBOC families are BRCA1 and BRCA2. BRCA is an abbreviation for Breast Cancer. A “mutation,” or detrimental genetic change, in either BRCA1 or BRCA2, increases a woman’s lifelong risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

BRCA 2 mutations can raise the risk of pancreatic cancer and high-grade prostate cancer in men. Knowing your family’s medical history can help you determine whether you are more prone to develop breast, ovarian, or other cancers.

Being born with defective genes does not guarantee that a person will develop cancer. They are, nonetheless, more likely than others to develop certain types of cancer. They are also more prone to develop cancer while they are younger.

How is ovarian cancer diagnosed?

If you have symptoms that point to ovarian cancer, you may be subjected to one or more of the following tests:

  • PET/CT is a nuclear medicine imaging test that involves a small quantity of radioactive material to assist diagnose and treating a range of disorders, including cancer.
  • The CT scan is an x-ray procedure that produces precise cross-sectional images of your body. The test can determine whether ovarian cancer has migrated to other organs.
  • MRI scans also produce cross-section images of your inside organs. MRI, on the other hand, creates images with strong magnets rather than x-rays.
  • Pelvic ultrasound: employs sound waves to create images of the tissues and organs in the pelvis and can aid in the diagnosis of ovarian or uterine cancer. A probe is introduced into the vagina to provide a clearer view of the uterus and ovaries during transvaginal ultrasonography.
  • A biopsy is required to determine whether malignancy is present. A tiny tissue sample from the peritoneal deposits /omentum /intact ovarian mass is removed during the surgery to look for cancer cells.
  • A simple blood test to determine the level of the CA-125 protein can aid in diagnosis. Because the majority of epithelial ovarian cancer cells secrete this protein, it might sometimes signal the existence of ovarian cancer.

However, because elevated blood levels can be caused by other illnesses, test results aren’t conclusive on their own. As a result, blood tests are performed in conjunction with another testing to diagnose ovarian cancer.

How is ovarian cancer staged?

Three factors influence the stage of ovarian cancer: 

  • the size of the tumour 
  • whether the tumour has invaded the ovary or adjacent tissues whether cancer has migrated to other parts of the body 
  • Ovarian cancer in its early stages 

Stage 1 ovarian cancer signifies that cancer has only spread to the ovaries. The primary treatment is surgery. Chemotherapy is required for certain women. 

Stage 2 ovarian cancer indicates cancer has spread from one or both ovaries to other parts of the pelvis. 

Stage 2A: Cancer has progressed to the uterus and/or fallopian tubes. 

Stage 2B: cancer has migrated from the peritoneum to the bladder, colon, or rectum. 

Stage 3: Cancer has migrated beyond the peritoneum cavity (abdomen) /

through lymph nodes 

Stage 3A: The tumour nodule which are metastasised is roughly 2 cm in size and has expanded beyond the abdominal space in the second stage. 

In stage 3B, cancer has spread outside the pelvic area and has grown in size (more than 2 centimeters). At this point, it may affect other organs, such as the liver surface 

Stage4: The most advanced kind of ovarian cancer is stage IV. 

A and B are the two substages: 

Stage 4A: Cancer cells are discovered in the excess fluid that has accumulated around the lungs in Stage IVA. 

Stage 4B: Cancer has spread to organs and tissues outside the abdomen, along with lymph nodes in the groin, at this stage. 

How is ovarian cancer treated?

Surgery is the primary treatment option used by doctors to treat most ovarian malignancies.

  • The sort of surgery a person receives is determined by their overall health and the extent to which cancer has spread. If the cancer is in its early stages, doctors may be able to treat it without removing other ovary and the uterus.
  • Chemotherapy is a medication treatment that uses chemicals to eliminate rapidly developing cells in the body, such as cancer cells. Chemotherapy medications can be injected into a vein or consumed orally.
  • Targeted therapies are medications that solely target factors that aid cancer cell growth or survival. They could be used to treat advanced ovarian cancer that has returned.
  • Hormone therapy involves the use of medications to inhibit the effects of the hormone oestrogen on ovarian cancer cells.
  • Immunotherapy combats cancer by utilizing the immune system. Cancer cells may escape detection by the body’s disease-fighting immune system because they create proteins that allow them to hide from immune system cells.
  • Radiation therapy is sometimes used to treat ovarian cancer that has progressed to the pelvis or elsewhere in the body. It can be used as a palliative treatment following chemotherapy or surgery, or on its own.

How to lower your risk of getting ovarian cancer

You can lower the risk of getting ovarian cancer by doing these things:

  • Using oral contraceptives (birth control pills) reduces the chance of getting ovarian cancer in women with average risk and BRCA mutation carriers, especially in women who use them for a long time.
  • A woman’s risk of ovarian cancer decreases with the number of full-term pregnancies she has had. Breastfeeding mothers have a lower risk of ovarian cancer.
  • Tobacco usage and exposure can reduce your risk of ovarian cancer as well as many other types of cancer.
  • Tubal ligation and salpingectomy are surgical procedures that are used to shut or remove one or both fallopian tubes. Both surgeries are linked to a lower probability of ovarian cancer.

Survival rates

Survival statistics are frequently estimated by stage and reported as five-year relative survival rates, which are based on the number of persons who are living five years or longer following their diagnosis.

Survival rates differ depending on the stage:

  • The five-year relative survival rate for ovarian cancer that has not spread outside the ovaries (localized or stage 1) is 92.6 percent.
  • The survival percentage for stage 2 or stage 3 ovarian malignancies that have progressed to neighbouring areas is 74.8 percent.
  • The survival rate for stage 4 ovarian cancer is 30.3 percent.
  • The stage of cancer is a major predictor of outcome. Ovarian cancer in stage 1 has a greater survival rate than cancer in stage 4.


    About Author

    Dr. Nilesh is a renowned Cancer surgeon/consultant practicing at SSO Hospital, Infinity Media Surge Hospital, and Navkaar Cancer Clinic Mumbai and he is also a visiting consultant at various hospitals in Mumbai, Thane, Dombivali, Kalyan, Navi Mumbai, etc. With over 10+ years of experience, he is highly trained and specialized in performing GI & Gynae cancer surgery procedures from the simplest to the most complicated surgeries.

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