Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month: Early Stage Cancer Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

Understanding the complexities of early-stage ovarian cancer is critical for optimal care. Through raising awareness and advocating for routine health examinations, we can all work together to lessen the damage that this silent threat poses to the women in our country. The key to effective treatment is still early intervention, which emphasises the value of prompt medical attention and a proactive attitude to women\’s health.

Dr. Ishu Gupta, a Senior Medical Oncologist at Cancel Cancer Hospital, Delhi says, \”Ovarian cancer, often referred to as the \”silent killer,\” poses a significant health challenge, particularly when detected in its early stages. In India, where the burden of gynecological cancers is substantial, understanding the signs, diagnostic methods, and treatment options for early-stage ovarian cancer is crucial for effective management and improved outcomes.\”

Identification of Early Stage Ovarian Cancer

\”Early detection of ovarian cancer is challenging due to the absence of specific symptoms in the initial stages. However, there are subtle signs that individuals and healthcare professionals should be vigilant about. These include persistent abdominal bloating, pelvic pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly, and changes in urinary habits\”, adds Dr Ishu.

Ovarian Cancer Diagnosis

Here are a list of disgnostic tests listed for detecting ovarian cancer as shared by Dr Ishu:

Pelvic Examination: Regular pelvic examinations are instrumental in detecting abnormalities in the reproductive organs. However, ovarian cancer is often asymptomatic in its early stages, making routine screenings less effective.

Imaging Studies: Transvaginal ultrasound and pelvic CT scans can provide detailed images of the ovaries, helping identify abnormalities. These imaging techniques play a crucial role in diagnosing early-stage ovarian cancer.

Blood Tests: CA-125 is a blood marker that may be elevated in ovarian cancer. While not exclusive to ovarian cancer, an increased CA-125 level can prompt further investigation.

Biopsy: A definitive diagnosis is obtained through a biopsy, where a small tissue sample is extracted and examined under a microscope.

Treatment Modalities for Early Stage Ovarian Cancer:

Surgery: The primary treatment for early stage ovarian cancer involves surgical removal of the tumor. Depending on the extent of the disease, the surgeon may remove one or both ovaries, the fallopian tubes, and the uterus.

Chemotherapy: Following or Before surgery, chemotherapy may be recommended to eliminate cancer cells. This can be administered intravenously or sometimes directly into the abdominal cavity.

Targeted Therapy: Some cases may benefit from targeted therapies that specifically target cancer cells, minimizing damage to healthy tissues.

Public awareness plays a pivotal role in the early detection and management of ovarian cancer. Women are encouraged to prioritize their health, attend routine check-ups, and promptly consult a healthcare professional if any concerning symptoms arise. 

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