Ovarian cancer is emerging as one of the most common malignancy affecting Indian women. Every year around 35,000women in India are diagnosed with it. About 1 in 78 women will develop ovarian cancer in their lifetime. As per a report released by E&Y in 2017 India recorded the second highest cases of ovarian cancer globally
There are several types of ovarian cancer but by far the vast majority are serous cancer that starts in the ovaries, commonly spreads to the uterus and within the abdomen.
Apart from the family history of breast or ovarian cancer among first degree relatives (which accounts to 5% to 10%), changes in lifestyle ,increased sedentary habits and obesity, delayed or no pregnancy are the major high risk factors.
In most cases ovarian cancer often goes undetected until it has spread to the abdomen or pelvis, with 75-80% being stage three or four.
It is most common in women 50 and above, younger women can also develop it.
There are no screening tests or definitive early symptoms of ovarian cancer. A major issue is that the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer (bloating, pressure and pain in the stomach, fatigue, feeling overly full after eating a normal meal, frequent bathroom trips, constipation, back pain and irregularities in menstruation) They are very vague symptoms and the problem is these symptoms are usually there when you already have a fairly advanced ovarian cancer.
Patients usually ignore them initially attributing to less serious causes, so it’s really important for women to visit their doctor if they notice anything out of the ordinary which persists for more than two weeks
The main treatments for ovarian cancer are surgery (Cytoreductive) and chemotherapy with the sequence of the therapies depending on the stage of presentation.
It is important to understand that even in these relatively advanced cases many if not all can expect a reasonable outcome with modern treatment modalities like cytoreductive surgery an HIPEC and the new generation chemotherapy drugs.
It is a complex surgery wherein the surgeon aims to remove all the tumor deposits that are visible to naked eye and usually combines multiple procedures like total peritonectomy, hysterectomy, bilateral ovaries and tubes removal, omentectomy, and removal of part pf diseased intestine or sometimes spleen.
This is followed by HIPEC ( Heated intraperitoneal chemotherapy) which in simple words means subjecting the abdomen to hot chemo bath at a temperature around 42 degree C for a duration of around 90 minutes to kill microscopic cancer cells in abdomen.
This advanced treatment options aim to improve long term survival in these patients with advanced disease at presentation.
Survival depends on many factors including the stage and type of your ovarian cancer. So it is important to educate women. September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness month and on occasion of this
We urge women to Learn – the early warning signs of ovarian cancer,(Acronym BEAT) Listen – to your body , you know best what is normal for you and Act – see your doctor early. The first step towards healing from cancer is owning the diagnosis, and treating it as just a disease.
B is for bloating that doesn’t come and go
E is for eating difficulty and feeling full more quickly
A is for abdominal and pelvic pain you feel most days
T is for toilet changes in urination or bowel habits