Ovarian cancer is a silent disease that affects thousands of women each year. Often there are no symptoms until it is very advanced and difficult to treat. Therefore, it is very important that you know the warning signs that could indicate that something is wrong with your ovaries. In this article, we will tell you what are the 10 signs of ovarian cancer that you should not ignore and that could save your life if you detect them early.
What is ovarian cancer and why is it so dangerous?
- Ovarian cancer is a type of cancer that originates in the cells of the ovaries, the female reproductive glands that produce eggs and hormones.
- Ovarian cancer can be of different types depending on the type of cell that becomes cancerous. The most common are epithelial carcinomas, which form on the outer lining of the ovaries.
- Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cancer in women and the leading cause of death from gynecologic cancer.
- Ovarian cancer is so dangerous because it often goes undetected until it has spread to other organs in the abdomen or body. This makes its diagnosis and treatment difficult.
- Ovarian cancer has a relatively low survival rate. According to the American Cancer Society, only 47% of women with ovarian cancer survive more than five years after diagnosis.
What factors increase the risk of ovarian cancer?
- The exact cause of ovarian cancer is not known, but some factors have been identified that may increase the risk of developing it, some you can control and others you cannot, so it is very important that you always be vigilant and perform your gynecological checkups correctly. timely. Here are some of them:
- Age: The risk increases with age, especially after age 50.
- Family history: Having a mother, sister, or daughter with ovarian cancer increases your risk.
- Genetics: Having mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes or in other genes associated with Lynch syndrome increases the risk.
- Early menstruation or late menopause: having more menstrual cycles throughout life increases the risk.
- Not having had children or having had them after the age of 35: pregnancy and lactation reduce the risk.
- Long-term use of hormone replacement therapy: taking estrogen alone for more than five years after menopause increases the risk.
- Obesity: Having a body mass index (BMI) greater than 30 increases your risk.
- Tobacco and alcohol: Smoking and drinking alcohol in excess increase the risk.
What signs can indicate the presence of ovarian cancer?
- Ovarian cancer can cause different symptoms depending on the size and location of the tumor. However, many of these symptoms are non-specific and can be confused with other less serious conditions. Therefore, it is important to be aware of any changes in your body and consult your doctor if you have any questions. These are some of the signs that may indicate the presence of ovarian cancer:
- Abdominal distention or enlargement of the abdomen.
- Persistent or frequent abdominal or pelvic pain.
- Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly.
- Changes in bowel habits, such as constipation or diarrhea.
- Increased urinary frequency or urgency.
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding, especially after menopause.
- Unexplained weight gain or loss.
- Fatigue, nausea, indigestion, gas or reflux.
- Back, side or leg pain.
- Palpable mass or lump in the abdomen or pelvis.
How can you prevent ovarian cancer?
Ovarian cancer is a disease that cannot be prevented with certainty, but there are some factors that can reduce the risk of suffering from it, these are some of them:
- Take birth control pills for five years or more.
- Have children and breastfeed them.
- Follow a balanced and varied diet, rich in fruits and vegetables, eliminating sugar and reducing dairy products and products that contain inflammatory agents such as gluten.
- Practice physical activity regularly.
- Keep a healthy weight.
- Avoid the consumption of alcohol, tobacco and other harmful substances.
- Have periodic medical check-ups and consult with the doctor in case of any abnormal symptoms.
How is ovarian cancer diagnosed and treated?
- If you have any of the above symptoms or if you are at high risk of ovarian cancer, you should see your doctor for an evaluation. The diagnosis of ovarian cancer is based on the following steps:
- Physical exam: The doctor will examine your abdomen and pelvis for any abnormalities.
- Lab tests: Your doctor will take a blood sample to measure the level of a protein called CA-125, which is often elevated in women with ovarian cancer. However, this test is not specific or definitive, since it can also increase for other reasons, such as: it increases with the use of tobacco, in women with endometriosis or in the presence of chronic pelvic inflammatory disease.
- Imaging tests: Your doctor will likely perform a transvaginal ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) scan, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to get detailed images of your ovaries and other organs in your abdomen and pelvis.
- Biopsy: performed during surgery, which can be laparoscopy, robotic, or open. The doctor will remove the compromised ovary or a part of it (it all depends on the desire to have children or not), they will also take samples from other parts of the abdomen and fluid to analyze it under a microscope, confirm the presence of cancer cells and give a stage of the disease.
- Treatment for ovarian cancer depends on the type, size, location, and extent of the tumor, as well as your age, general health, and personal preferences. The most common treatment options are as follows:
- Surgery: Consists of removing the ovaries and fallopian tubes (bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy), the uterus and cervix (total hysterectomy), and other tissues or organs affected by the cancer (cytoreduction). Surgery can be open or laparoscopic.
- Chemotherapy: involves giving drugs that kill or stop the growth of cancer cells. Chemotherapy can be intravenous (through the blood) or intraperitoneal (into the abdomen). Chemotherapy is usually given after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells, in some cases treatment is done prior to surgery to reduce the size of the lesion.
- Radiotherapy: It consists of applying high-energy radiation to the area affected by cancer. Radiation therapy is rarely used to treat ovarian cancer, but it may be helpful in relieving symptoms or controlling cancer that has spread to other organs.
- Targeted therapy: This consists of administering drugs that block signals that stimulate the growth and survival of cancer cells, including antihormonal drugs. Targeted therapy is used to treat some specific types of ovarian cancer that have certain genetic mutations or molecular features.
How can you take care of yourself if you have ovarian cancer?
Having ovarian cancer can be a difficult and stressful experience that affects your physical and emotional health. Therefore, it is important that you take care of yourself and seek professional and personal support. Here are some tips that can help you better cope with your situation:
- Learn about your disease: Knowing the details about your diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment options will help you make informed decisions and feel more confident and empowered.
- Seek psychological support: Talking to a psychologist or therapist can help you express your emotions, manage stress and anxiety, and improve your self-esteem and well-being.
- Seek social support: having the support of your family, your friends, your partner or your peer group can make you feel accompanied, understood and loved. You can participate in face-to-face or online support groups, where you can share your experiences and advice with other women who are going through the same thing as you.
- Take care of your diet: following a balanced and varied diet will help you maintain your weight, your energy and your immune system. Avoid the consumption of alcohol, tobacco, pro-inflammatory foods and other harmful substances. Check with your doctor or nutritionist if you have questions about which foods are best suited for you.
- Do moderate exercise: practicing physical activity adapted to your level and your state of health will help you improve your circulation, your breathing, your strength and your flexibility. Exercise will also help you release endorphins, the feel-good hormones, which will make you feel happier and more relaxed.
- Get enough rest: sleeping well is essential to recover your energy and vitality. Try to stick to a regular sleep routine, avoid distractions before bed, and create a comfortable and calm environment in your bedroom. If you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, ask your doctor or pharmacist if you can take a medication or natural supplement to help you.
- Enjoy the things you like: spending time on your hobbies, your personal projects or your leisure activities will help you distract yourself, have fun and feel fulfilled. Find activities that make you feel good about yourself and others, like reading, painting, writing, dancing, traveling, or whatever you're passionate about.
How emotions influence ovarian cancer
It is vital that you always maintain a positive vision , since the influence of thoughts on the immune system and on our DNA is a reality. Every woman has the strength and courage to overcome these challenges!
There are natural supplements such as our CBD ZEN , which can help you reduce your stress levels, anxiety, as well as reduce inflammation and control pain. It is important that you consult your doctor to confirm that you can take it.
Additionally, CBD ZEN includes a support guide with targeted therapies for managing emotions, controlling stress and anxiety, and it is totally free.
If you want to know more about how your thoughts are related to health, we recommend the book Turn On Your Brain, by Caroline Leaf , which teaches us how managing emotions allows us to achieve a healthier life.
If you received radiation therapy and antihormonal therapy, it is common to have low sexual desire and vaginal dryness. Once you have recovered and decided to continue with your intimate life (which can provide you with important emotional support), remember that you should always lubricate the vagina to avoid pain. Remember that you cannot use products that contain hormones (estrogens) in most ovarian cancers, which is why we recommend that you do so with a water-based gel, with a pH according to the area and with hyaluronic acid, such as our Intimate Gel from Zenzsual.
Ovarian cancer is a serious disease that can be fatal if not detected and treated early. For this reason, it is very important to regularly attend your gynecological control because it is the only way to find it in the early stages before the symptoms appear.
Be aware of the warning signs that could indicate the presence of a tumor in your ovaries. If you have any of these symptoms or if you are at high risk of ovarian cancer, do not hesitate to consult your doctor to perform the necessary tests.
Remember that the sooner ovarian cancer is diagnosed, the better the chances of cure and survival.
Also, if you have ovarian cancer, you need to take care of yourself both physically and emotionally. Follow your doctor's instructions on the most appropriate treatment for you and seek professional and personal support to better deal with your situation.
We hope this article has been useful and informative. If you liked it, share it with your friends and family so that they are also informed about ovarian cancer.
And if you have any questions or comments on the subject, do not hesitate to write to us on social networks. We will be happy to answer you. Until next time!