Ovarian cancer is one of the deadliest cancers of the female reproductive tract as it is often diagnosed at an advanced stage. Currently research is being done on finding a screening test or tests that could helpin early detection of ovarian cancer when it is treatable. However, till such a test is available it is important to consult your doctor preferably gynecologist if you have symptoms suggestive of ovarian cancer or a family history of ovarian cancer.
[Read: Tips to Prevent Ovarian Cancer]
"High risk" family history: Consulting your gynecologist if you have a ’high risk‘family’ history of ovarian cancer is important as it increases your risk of developing the cancer. If you have a family history of ovarian cancer (a close female relative such as sister, mother, or daughter, or a second-degree female relative-such as an aunt or grandmother who has had ovarian cancer) it is possible that mutation in BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene is present in the family. Mutation in BRCA1 and BRCA2 increases the lifetime risk of developing ovarian cancer in these families. Women with family history may be tested for BRCA gene mutation. For women with positive test (that is BRCA gene changes are present) some experts recommend surgery for removal of ovaries and fallopian tubes between ages 35 to 40, or after the family is complete (you are done with having children). This can reduce the risk of ovarian cancer by about 96 per cent and breast cancer by 50 per cent. However as this is a big and personal decision so talk to your spouse, family and doctor. Your doctor can guide you about the risks and benefits of surgery.
Warning signs of ovarian cancer: Till recently it was considered that most women with ovarian cancer may have no symptoms or only mild symptoms, until the disease has progressed to an advanced stage.However, recent research indicates that many women have early symptoms and these symptoms are most often ignored by them. The warning signs are often ignored as they tend to be non-specific,are considered to be part of normal aging process or as symptoms due to some other conditions, such as a urinary tract infection (UTI). Some of the early warning signs of ovarian cancer include
- bloating sensation
- pelvic or abdominal (stomach) pain
- change in bladder habits, such as urgency or frequency of micturition, urinary incontinence
- trouble eating or feeling full quickly even after a light meal.
[Read: Diet for Ovarian Cancer Patients]
If these symptoms persist for more than 2 weeks should consult a doctor preferably a gynecologist. These symptoms do not mean that you have ovarian cancer but your doctor can diagnose the cause and then treat the problem appropriately. It is definitely to your advantage if you seek early consultation for your symptoms and be aware about the possibility of ovarian cancer. If you are not satisfied you’re your doctor’s response or diagnosis don’t hesitate in obtaining a second opinion.
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