Ovarian cancer: How to recognise its symptoms and knowing its treatment options

The symptoms of ovarian cancer – bloating, difficulty in eating, feeling full and feeling the need to use the bathroom often – are generic enough to lead to a diagnosis of other health problems

Ovary-Screening

The overall incidence of ovarian tumour is 11.7% in India. It’s more common between 55-70 years of age.

Periodic screening for symptoms of any disease, cancer or otherwise, is the best approach for catching it early.

In India, it is the third most commonly seen cancer in women.

Prevention is better than cure, and through the genetic screening for ovarian cancer, one can anticipate the risk or probability of being diagnosed with the same.

Doctors emphasise saying, it is highly advised that women go for genetic counselling where there is a family history of cancer and based on their counsellor’s advice get tested for ovarian cancer

Dr Niranjan Chavan
Dr Niranjan Chavan

The risk factors for ovarian cancer are:

  • Early menarche.
  • Late menopause.
  • Low parity.
  • Genetic familial history, mutation in genes.

Signs and symptoms

Asymptomatic or Symptomatic

  • Pain in the abdomen, swelling and distension of the abdomen,
  • Ascitis, lymph nodes palpable, oedema feet,
  • Weight loss, cachexia.

Investigations

Routine investigations include:

  • USG pelvis
  • Doppler
  • Tumour markers
  • MRI scan

Treatment

When detected in the early stage: 

Staging laparotomy with debulking of ovarian tumour with partial or complete omentectomy followed by chemotherapy.

Role of laparoscopy:

I don’t recommend unless the tumour size is less than 5-8 centimetres.

Disadvantages

  • Port metastasis.
  • Spillage leading to upgradation of the stage of the tumour.

Advance stage

Poor prognosis when diagnosed in 3rd, 4th stage.

Those women who have strong history of familial history and are BRCA1-2 positive should undergo Bilateral salphigo- opphorectomy after the age of 35 years.

In addition, there are other hereditary syndromes, like Lynch Syndrome and Li-Fraumeni Syndrome, which can result in the development of ovarian cancer. There are genetic tests available to understand whether genes involved in these syndromes are also present in a person.

Prevention is better than cure, and through the genetic screening for ovarian cancer, one can anticipate the risk or probability of being diagnosed with the same. Doctors emphasise saying, it is highly advised that women go for genetic counselling where there is a family history of cancer and based on their counsellor’s advice get tested for ovarian cancer.

The author is a Professor, Gynaecology Department at LTMG (Sion) Hospital and chairperson, FOGSI oncology committee (2012 to 2014)