How Is Ovarian Cancer Diagnosed and Types of Treatment Available

How Is Ovarian Cancer Diagnosed and Types of Treatment Available

Woman can be affected with a wide variety of cancers and one of the deadly forms is ovarian cancer. The ovarian cancer affects ovarian tissue which is the part of reproductive system of women. 

It is also sometimes called as ‘silent killer’ as there are no early warning signs associated with the disease or no noticeable signs until the advanced stages.

While the advance stages are nasty to deal with, the early the detection, the more are the chances of treating it.

Diagnosis of Ovarian Cancer

There is no standard screening process to detect ovarian cancer. However, if your doctor suspects an abnormality after reviewing symptoms and your medical history, he may recommend you following tests.

Pelvic examination

The outer portion of the genitals including ovaries is carefully examined. The doctor inserts two gloved fingers in the vagina and checks the amount of masses or growths. A device might also be inserted into the vagina to visually check for any abnormalities.

Imaging tests

  • Ultrasound produces high frequency of sound waves to produce images of inside of the body. It is considered a safe and non-invasive way to determine the size, shape and structure of ovaries. Ultrasound can reveal growths that might be benign cysts or malignant tumour. The characteristics of the mass such as appearance, solidity and fluid content are noted.
  • Computerized tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test can also be performed for detailed cross-sectional images.
  • Chest X-Ray can also be ordered for determining if the tumour has spread to the lungs and other organs.

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Blood test (CA 125)

This test is also known as CA 125 tumour marker test. CA 125 is a protein made by our body in response to various conditions. Many of the women suffering from ovarian cancer contain abnormally higher levels of CA 125 in their blood. 

However, there are many non-cancerous conditions that can cause high level of CA 125. Also, many women with early stage of ovarian cancer have normal level of CA 125. So, there is lack of specifics.

Biopsy

A biopsy is further needed to confirm the presence of cancer. Surgery or biopsy is actually a first step in treating the cancer. The surgeon removes a tissue sample and abdominal fluid. If cancer is discovered, the surgeon will try to remove the cancerous content as much as possible. This procedure is called laparotomy.

In some women, laparoscopic surgery is also an option. In this, a small incision is made into the abdomen with laparoscope (a rod equipped with light camera) attached to it for transmitting live feed.

Treatment of Ovarian Cancer

Treatment of ovarian cancer depends heavily on the staging and gradation of the disease.

Surgery

Also known as de-bulking or cyto-reduction is the first step as mentioned above. The aim of this surgery is to remove as much tumour as possible which eventually helps in treating the cancer effectively with chemotherapy. In some cases, ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus might also be removed.

Chemotherapy

It is done to get rid of any remaining cancerous cells after surgery. Chemotherapy includes powerful medications delivered either intravenously (through veins) or can also be directly injected into the abdomen for better outcome. It is sometimes given to reduce pain or symptoms but not to cure cancer. Chemotherapy depends on the stage of cancer and other factors.

Radiotherapy

This involves beaming high energy at the ovarian tumour. It can kill the leftover cancerous cells in the pelvic area. It can also be useful for detecting the recurrence ovarian cancer.

Treating ovarian cancer is often a lengthy procedure. The diagnosis has some risks of its own. Experts are currently studying new treatments and procedures. So it’s better to ask your doctor what’s the best clinical trial for you.

Sources

1. Ovarian cancer(2017,January 30). NHS read more
2. Ovarian Epithelial, Fallopian Tube, and Primary Peritoneal Cancer Treatment: Patient Version(2017, October 13). PubMed Health read more 
3. Tests for Ovarian Cancer(2017, March 20). American Cancer Society read more
4. Ovarian Cancer Treatment(2017, January). National Cancer Institute read more
5. How Is Ovarian Cancer Treated?(2017, February 13). CDC 
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