Ovarian cancer is a cancer that appears in the ovarian tissue. Ovarian cancer is more common in postmenopausal women.
Until now, the cause of ovarian cancer has not been known with certainty. However, ovarian cancer is more common in elderly women and women with a history of ovarian cancer.
Ovarian cancer detected in the early stages is easier to treat than ovarian cancer that is only detected after entering the advanced stage. Therefore, it is important to conduct periodic examinations to the gynecologist after menopause.
Ovarian Cancer Types
There are three main types of ovarian cancer, namely:
Epithelial cell cancer.
Epithelial cells cover the outer layer of the ovary. Eighty-five percent of ovarian cancer cases are of this type.
Germ cell cancer.
Germinal cells are cells in the ovaries that can develop into eggs. This type of cancer often occurs in young women. This type of ovarian cancer has a fairly high cure rate.
Stromal cell cancer.
Stromal cell cancer occurs in connective tissue that composes the inside of the ovary. This type of cancer also has a high cure rate.
Ovarian Cancer Causes
To date, doctors have not had a definitive conclusion to the problem. In general, cancer usually occurs due to a change in genes in a person’s body that causes normal cells to develop into cancer cells. Then, the cells will duplicate themselves and create tumors. In addition, these cells also attack surrounding cells and spread to other organs.
Ovarian Cancer Risk Factors
There are many risk factors for ovarian cancer, namely:
- A woman with few children. The fewer children a woman has, the higher her risk of developing ovarian cancer
- Women who have breast cancer or have family members who have breast cancer
- Women who have been doing estrogen replacement therapy for more than 5 years
- Elderly women.
Ovarian Cancer Stages
Ovarian cancer has four stages, namely:
- Stage I. Cancer can be found on the surface of the ovaries.
- Stage II. Cancer involves 1/2 part of the ovary that can extend up to the pelvis (uterus, Fallopian tubes, bladder, colon).
- Stage III. The cancer spreads beyond the pelvic cavity to the abdominal wall, abdominal organs, small intestine, lymph nodes, and the surface of the liver.
- Stage IV. The last phase of ovarian cancer. The cancer has spread to distant organs — such as the spleen, lungs, liver (inside).
Tests For Ovarian Cancer Diagnosis
Ovarian Cancer Complications
In addition to causing various symptoms, ovarian cancer also often causes some complications due to the spread (metastasis) of cancer of the stomach and lungs. Some of them include:
Obstruction or blockage of the intestine can occur due to metastasis of ovarian cancer in the abdomen and pelvis. In addition, obstruction can also be caused by postoperative abdominal or pelvic scar tissue that causes intestinal tightness. Symptoms of intestinal obstruction include cramps and severe abdominal pain accompanied by vomiting.
To overcome intestinal obstruction, surgery is required to remove the blocked part of the intestine. After surgery, a nasogastric tube will be inserted from the nose into the stomach to enter food during intestinal recovery.
Ovarian cancer often metastasizes into the intestinal wall and develops there. The tissues will weaken as well as trigger colon perforation. Colon perforation is the rupture of the colon characterized by the exit of the intestinal contents into the abdominal cavity. This can lead to an infection known as peritonitis, which must overcomes by surgery.
Blockage of the ureter (urinary tract)
Ovarian cancer can spread to the pelvis and clog the ureter (urinary tract) connecting the kidneys with the bladder. When both ureters are blocked, the amount of urine that comes out will decrease. If only one of the ureters is blocked, the patient may be asymptomatic or experience severe pain depending on the location of the blockage.
In the presence of metastasis to the lungs or chest, fluid buildup can occur in the lining that limits the lungs and chest cavity. This condition is known as pleural effusion. Often, the liquid contains cancer cells.
Bone pain caused by cancer metastasis to the bone can feel great, but some types of medication and radiation therapy can help reduce pain.
When to see a doctor
Women undergoing hormone replacement therapy to relieve menopausal symptoms should discuss the benefits and risks of this therapy with a doctor.
Hormone replacement therapy is at risk of causing ovarian cancer, especially in women whose family members have had ovarian cancer or breast cancer.
If you often experience symptoms of indigestion, such as flatulence, rapid satiety, abdominal pain, or constipation, especially after it lasted for 3 weeks, consult a doctor immediately. The doctor will conduct an examination to find the cause of the symptoms.