Ovarian Cancer FAQ
Reviewed By : Dr. Anjali D.
Following are common questions about Ovarian cancer:
- What factors can lead to Ovarian Cancer?
- What tests are suggested for Ovarian Cancer diagnosis?
- What are the lab values for the tests suggested?
- What are the test rates for Ovarian Cancer diagnosis in India?
- What are the common symptoms of this disease?
- What are the different treatment methods for Ovarian Cancer?
- What are preventive measures to adopt for avoiding Ovarian Cancer?
- What is the rate of survival for Ovarian Cancer?
- Are other cancers related to Ovarian Cancer?
- What is the rate of survival for Ovarian Cancer?
What factors can lead to Ovarian Cancer?
Though risk to women is not quite high for ovarian cancer, below factors may be cause of concern.
- Women above 40 years of age are likely to be affected, with ratio high in women over age 60 and more
- Women with a family history of ovarian cancer are at risk
- BRCA1/ BRCA2 are abnormalities that are cause of bother as they lead to ovarian cancer
- Women who had been affected by colon, uterine, or breast cancer are at risk
- Yet to be pregnant women or those having issues in getting pregnant
- Women having endometriosis, which is a condition wherein a tissue from uterus lining, grows in the patients body elsewhere
- Fertility drugs that help ovulate may also lead to ovarian cancer in some cases
- Continual use of talcum powder in genitals increases risk
What tests are suggested for Ovarian Cancer?
Early detection is the only way via which ovarian cancer can be cured. The following diagnostic tests are usually prescribed by doctors if symptoms for the presence of this disease are visible in patients.
What are the lab values for the tests suggested?
Normal values for ovarian cancer tests are as follows:
- CA 125: 0 to 35 units/ml
- AFP (Alpha Feto Protein): For pregnant women (15 to 18 weeks): 10 to 150 nanograms/ml
For Men (testicular caner) and non pregnant women: 0 to 40 nanograms/ml
What are the test rates for Ovarian Cancer diagnosis in India?
Rates of tests for ovarian cancer diagnosis may vary depending on where your live in India, type of diagnostic center you visit, or the hospital from where you get those tests done. You can find the charges of test in various Indian cities here.
What are the common symptoms of this disease?
Early detection is difficult for ovarian cancer. Suffering women show completely negative to mild symptoms till advanced stage is reached. However, some symptoms include:
- Abnormal discharge or bleeding from vagina
- Frequent urination, diarrhea or constipation
- Back pain
- Indigestion, gas and nausea
- Quick feeling of full stomach while eating
- Unusual weight gain or loss
- Difficulty in breathing
- Unexplained fatigue
What are the different treatment methods for Ovarian Cancer?
Mostly patients who suffer from ovarian cancer need to undergo surgery. Various surgery types are as follows:
Apart from surgery, the following treatments may be done:
- Hysterectomy: Fallopian tubes, cervix, uterus and ovaries are removed
- Unilateral salpingo-oophorectomy: One each of fallopian tubes and ovaries is removed
- Bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy: Both ovaries along with fallopian tubes are removed
- Omentectomy: A tissue called omentum that lines abdominal wall is removed
- Lymph node biopsy: Entire lymph node or part of it is removed
- Targeted therapy
- Hormone therapy
- Radiation therapy
What are preventive measures to adopt for avoiding Ovarian Cancer?
Though a perfect way to prevent or avoid ovarian cancer is difficult to state, lower rates for this disease have been seen in females who:
Some preventive measures also include:
- Used birth control related pills for five years and more
- Had undergone tubal ligation (tubes tied)
- Had both their ovaries removed
- Had hysterectomy performed
- Given birth
- Get pelvic exams done yearly
- Abdominal pain or irregular bleeding from vagina is not neglected
- Your physician is aware about any family history of this disease
- Consuming diet that is low on fat
What is the rate of survival for Ovarian Cancer?
Though there has been significant progress in survival rates for cervical and breast cancer, mortality for ovarian cancer has not seen any considerable positive change. Lack of progress with regards to early detection is the major cause for this. The rates of survival for ovarian cancer are as follows:
- If detected in early stages, 90% success
- Late detection due to unavailability of accurate diagnosis early on, results in 75% patients being diagnosed during advanced stage
- Long term rate of survival for ovarian cancer in its advanced stage is just 10%
- 1 year rate of survival post diagnosis is 75%
- 5 year rate of survival post diagnosis is 46% (70% survival if spread to some regions in pelvis and 30% survival if spread outside pelvis)
Are other cancers related to Ovarian Cancer?
Yes. There is a definite link between ovarian cancer and some other cancer types. The linking factors include:
- Family history that has presence of breast cancer is a high risk sign
- Inherited mutation with regards to BRCA1/BRCA2 genes
- Colorectal and uterine cancer are also linked to ovarian cancer
What side effects can be experienced post chemotherapy?
Usually, vomiting and nausea are side effects associated with chemotherapy. These can be severe too in some cases. Medications called antiemetics are prescribed for controlling such side effects.
Some other commonly found side effects are fatigue, dizziness, mouth sores, hair loss, pain, infection and appetite loss.