My mother found she had Ovarian Cancer when she was 50 years old. She died when she was 94, so I think we can say that in her case, the diagnosis and treatment were correct.
In the gynecological field most women have heard of the Pap Smear, but that does not cover all possible problems “down there”. The Pap smear is used to diagnose Cervical cancer, but does not give you warning of cancer of the other organs.
Cancer of the womb is quite different from cancer of the ovaries and the diagnostic procedures can be quite different.
Symptoms that should cause you to look further include:
- Abdominal bloating or swelling.
- Quickly feeling full when eating.
- Weight loss.
- Discomfort in the pelvis area.
- Changes in bowel habits, such as constipation.
- A frequent need to urinate.
There are two main tests for Ovarian Cancer, (in addition to a complete pelvic exam) to screen for ovarian cancer are transvaginal ultrasound (TVUS) and the CA-125 blood test. TVUS (ultrasound) is a test that uses sound waves to look at the uterus, fallopian tubes. CT of the abdomen and pelvis and MRI can also help in making the definitive diagnosis.
As with many organs we “stage” the cancer, which directs us towards the most appropriate treatment that should be used, as Ovarian cancer can spread (metastasize) to other organs.
Standard surgery to remove the cancer is still the first treatment. After surgery, chemo is recommended, usually with 3 to 6 cycles of treatment with the current best choices in anti-cancer being used.
Like most cancers, the earlier you find out, the better your prognosis. Have a word with one of our gynecologists today if you think you have symptoms referable to Ovarian Cancer.
Be like my Mum and catch it early.