Experts want you to know what it is – before it’s too late

Symptoms of ovarian cancer can often be mistaken for less serious illnesses, as the warning signs can be vague. (Photo by Getty Images)

Ovarian cancer is the 7th most common cancer in women in the world. However, unlike breast and cervical cancers, there is currently no screening process to diagnose a disease that is often overlooked and misunderstood.

Since 2013, May 8 has been marked as World Ovarian Cancer Day. Each year, the World Ovarian Cancer Coalition partners with hundreds of organizations to raise global awareness of ovarian cancer.

According to the Vancouver General Hospital and the University of British Columbia Hospital Foundation, more than 3,100 women in Canada are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year.

As the number of illnesses is expected to increase in the coming years, experts say it is important for all women to be aware of the signs and symptoms.

What is ovarian cancer?

Ovarian cancer is a group of diseases that occur in the ovaries, or in the corresponding areas of the peritoneum, which is the lining of the fallopian tubes and the peritoneal cavity.

The ovaries are oblong-shaped glands located on either side of the uterus that secrete eggs for female reproduction, as well as the hormones estrogen and progesterone.

It is estimated that there are more than 30 types of ovarian cancer, the most lethal.

Ovarian cancer is a group of diseases caused by the ovaries.  (Photo by Getty Images)

What are the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer?

Symptoms of ovarian cancer can be vague, so they can often be mistaken for less serious illnesses.

Dr. Rebecca Stone, Associate Professor of Gynecological Oncology, Johns Hopkins, Baltimore, Md. Yahoo Canada When people are diagnosed with ovarian cancer, their disease probably progresses to the third or fourth stage.

According to Stone, about 85 percent of diagnoses are advanced in stage three or four, that is, the cancer has spread to other parts of the body in addition to the pelvis, such as the abdomen, liver, and surrounding lymph nodes.

Some common symptoms include:

Who is at risk for ovarian cancer?

There are several factors that increase a woman’s chances of developing epithelial ovarian cancer, the most common type of ovarian cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, ovarian cancer is rare in women under the age of 40 and usually occurs after menopause.

Having a first child after the age of 35 and never having a full-term pregnancy also contributes to the development of ovarian cancer.

These risk factors do not apply to less common types of ovarian cancer, including gonadal and stromal tumors.

The presence of ovarian cancer in the family, as well as breast and colon cancer, increases a woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer.

The earlier it is detected, the more successful the treatment of ovarian cancer will be.  (Photo by Getty Images)

The earlier it is detected, the more successful the treatment of ovarian cancer will be. (Photo by Getty Images)

How is ovarian cancer diagnosed?

Stone said that because many women have a pelvic exam or pap smear once a year, they may also misunderstand that they are being screened for ovarian cancer, but this is not the case. There is no screening for early detection of ovarian cancer.

If a family member has ovarian or breast cancer at a young age or has colon, pancreatic, or prostate cancer in several generations, Stone says you should talk to your doctor about genetic counseling and your eligibility for testing.

“The only type of screening test we have is to screen women who are at high genetic risk for ovarian cancer,” Stone said.

Although only 20 percent of ovarian cancers are inherited, Stone says knowing your family history is a good way to identify any risks early and start “risk reduction strategies.”

“One of them is surgery, the removal of the fallopian tubes and ovaries after a woman has a baby, and maybe one day the removal of the fallopian tubes, if our theory is correct. [ovarian cancer] It comes from a tube, not an egg, and this research is underway, ”he explained.

In addition to genetic testing, transvaginal ultrasound and biopsy can also help detect ovarian cancer.

Symptoms of ovarian cancer can be vague, making it difficult to diagnose.  (Photo by Getty Images)

Symptoms of ovarian cancer can be vague, making it difficult to diagnose. (Photo by Getty Images)

Is the HPV vaccine effective against ovarian cancer?

Studies have shown that the HPV vaccine can help prevent cervical cancer, but Stone says it doesn’t protect you against ovarian cancer.

As far as we know, ovarian cancer is not HPV like cervical cancer, ”she added.

How can you reduce the risk of ovarian cancer?

You cannot prevent ovarian cancer, but there are ways to reduce the risk of diagnosis. If you have been using contraception for five years or more, if you have had your fallopian tubes removed, if you have had your ovaries removed or had a hysterectomy, and if you have given birth or breastfed, you may be less likely to develop ovarian cancer.

If you are considering ways to reduce your risk of ovarian cancer, it is recommended that you talk to your doctor first.

How is ovarian cancer treated?

The earlier it is detected, the more successful the treatment of ovarian cancer will be.

Once diagnosed, a doctor can make a treatment plan based on a number of factors, including the stage of the cancer, the type of tumor, and whether the patient wants to become pregnant in the future.

The most common treatments for ovarian cancer include surgery and chemotherapy.

There is currently no screening process for ovarian cancer.  (Photo by Getty Images)

There is currently no screening process for ovarian cancer. (Photo by Getty Images)

New research shows that prevention of ovarian cancer is promising

the stone says Yahoo Canada Research on ovarian cancer is underway and science is changing. Over the last 10-20 years, a lot of data has been collected on the prevention of ovarian cancer.

While doctors have long considered ovarian removal to be one of the best ways to prevent ovarian cancer, Stone says new research suggests that removal of the fallopian tubes may be more beneficial.

In February 2022, British Columbia scientists published new data on a procedure called opportunistic salpinectomy (OP). This procedure involves the removal of a fallopian tube left in the fallopian tube during a normal gynecological surgery or the removal of a hysterectomy in which the fallopian tubes remain intact.

“It’s amazing, because now we have the first signal that we can do something that doesn’t affect the function of the ovaries, the appearance of someone, or the quality of life,” Stone said. “We can actually reduce the number of fatal cancers with something very simple.”

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