Ovarian cancer develops in the cells that form the ovaries. These cells includes surface epithelial cells, germ cells and the sex cord-stromal cells. It has been studied that majority women with epithelial ovarian cancer are not diagnosed early though. The diagnosis is possible only when the disease has reached an advanced stage. But by that time, the cancer reaches to the upper abdomen (stage I) or beyond (stage II). The possibilities of these women surviving is only 15-20%.
It is essential for women to have awareness about the nature and symptoms of ovarian cancer as this dreaded cancer is likely to affect women of any age.
Sometimes, the symptoms of ovarian cancer cannot be seen until the cancer is pervasive or in its advanced stage. The former symptom of ovarian cancer is vague abdominal discomfort and bloating, which takes place due to excess fluid in the abdominal cavity.
Bloating is followed by digestive disturbances, unexplained changes in the bowel habits and urinary patterns. The patient is likely to take frequent visits to the bathroom even in the absence of urinary tract infection or other health problems. One may also feel nauseous, tired and also feel like vomiting at times. The patient may also feel discomfort and pain during an intercourse.
Pain and swelling in the pelvic region can also be seen on close physical examination. This occurs due to the swelling in the pelvis. In very rare cases, a woman in her postmenopausal stage goes through abnormal bleeding.
Other imprecise and generic symptoms of ovarian cancer take into account back and leg pain, loss of appetite, undernourished appearance, weight gain or weight loss, and unusual bleeding in the vagina.
Ovarian cancer usually occurs when cells divide and multiply in an unfettered way. Mentioned below are certain causes of ovarian cancer:
Women with a family history of relative struggling with ovarian or breast cancer have a higher risk of maturing ovarian cancer, as compared to other women.
Certain cases of ovarian cancer happens after menopause and specifically in women aged over 63 years. It is usually rare before the age of 40 years.
Women who have had one or more full-term pregnancies, specifically before 26 years, usually have lower risk. The more pregnancies they have, the lower the risk.
Using contraceptive pill for about 3-6 months have a lower risk. The longer the pill has been used, the lower the risk appears to be.
Infertility or fertility treatment
Fertility drugs have been associated to a higher risk of ovarian cancer, particularly in women who used them for more than a year without turning pregnant. Those who are infertile are likely to have a higher risk than those who do not.
Women who received a diagnosis of breast cancer have a higher chance of being diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
Owing to this reason, women who are diagnosed with breast cancer and who test positive for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene may choose to have an oophorectomy as preventive therapy.
There might be other causes as well.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Once the symptoms are clearly visible, the doctor speculates that the patient may be suffering from ovarian cancer, laparoscopy is conducted to confirm diagnosis. It is basically a visual examination of the abdominal cavity, the ovaries, the exterior of the fallopian tubes and the uterus using a piece of equipment that is inserted just below the navel.
Once the disease is confirmed, the doctor discover the extent of the cancer and submits the patient for surgery. The surgeon then eliminate the growth or much of the malignant tissue. In certain cases, the entire ovary or both of the ovaries and the fallopian tubes are removed as the malignant cancer cells have already disturbed these areas. This particular surgery is known as salpingooophorectomy. If the malignant cells have an impact over the uterus, hysterectomy is carried out.
Surgery is basically followed by radiotherapy, which is the use of high energy radiation in order to finish malignant cancer cells in the body and contract outstanding tumours, which may later turn into malignant.
The patient is at time also asked to undergo chemotherapy, wherein the patient is prescribed anti-cancer drugs to help accelerate ovarian cancer treatment. Drugs may be directed orally, intravenously or through the muscles.
Many anti-cancer drugs prescribed to the patient contain chemical compounds that are toxic to the malignant cells; hence, growth of the cancer cells is lessen or stopped. These anti-cancer drugs are termed as cytotoxic drugs.
The Ayurvedic treatment of ovarian cancer is basically intended to treat cancer, blocking its spread and extending survival. Medicines such as Triphala-Guggulu, Kanchnar-Guggulu, Punarnavadi-Guggulu, Mahamanjishthadi-Qadha, Chandraprabha-Vati, Ashokarishta, Dashmoolarishta, Kuber-Vati, Ashoka (Saraca indica), Deodar (Cedrus deodara), Varun (Crataeva nurvala) and Latakaranj (Caesalpinia crista) are used in to treat this condition.
Medicines which act on the tissue may prove out to be of great help. These medicines encompass Patol (Tricosanthe dioica), Kutki (Picrorrhiza kurroa), Saariva (Hemidesmus indicus), Patha ( Cissampelos pareira) , and Musta (Cyperus rotundus). Medicines like Kanchnaar-Guggulu and Mahamanjishthadi-Qadha are used in high doses to prevent the spread of the disease locally or to other body parts.
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus), Suvarna-Sutshekhar-Ras, Suvarna-Parpati, Suvarna-Raj-Vangeshwar-Ras, Suvarna-Malini-Vasant, Trivanga-Bhasma, Suvarna-Bhasma and Heerak-Bhasma are used to enhance the immune status of the body. In order to prevent or lessen the side effects of conventional therapy, medicines like Laxmi-Vilas-Ras, Shrung-Bhasma, Ashwagandha, Shankh-Vati and Laghu-Sutshekhar-Ras are used.