Early detection is key in the fight against ovarian cancer
Ovarian cancer is a rare but often deadly disease that can strike at any time in a woman's life. It affects one in 70 women and in the past was referred to as a silent killer, but researchers have found there are symptoms associated with ovarian cancer that can assist in early detection. Experts at Northwestern Memorial say the best defense is to make use of preventive methods, understand the risks and recognize potential warning signs of ovarian cancer.
"Currently, there is no reliable screening test to identify early ovarian cancer. Women need to focus on good health habits, listen to their bodies and tell their doctor if a change occurs," said Diljeet Singh, MD, gynecological oncologist and co-director of the Ovarian Cancer Early Detection and Prevention Program at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
Catching ovarian cancer early increases five-year survival odds from 30 percent to more than 90 percent. But the symptoms of ovarian cancer often mimic other less dangerous conditions making it difficult to recognize. Singh says women should be aware of possible early warning signs which include:
- Pelvic or abdominal pain
- Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
- Urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency)
- Increased abdominal size (pants getting tighter around waist)
Doctors say it is not clear what causes ovarian cancer but there are factors that increase the odds of developing the disease including carrying a mutation of the BRCA gene, having a personal history of breast cancer or a family history of ovarian cancer, being over the age of 45 or if a woman is obese. If a woman is high-risk, doctors recommend screening begin at age 20 to 25, or five to 10 years earlier than the youngest age of diagnosis in the family. In addition, there are genetic tests available that can identify women who are at a substantially increased risk.
While ovarian cancer is difficult to detect, specialized centers such as the Northwestern Ovarian Cancer Early Detection and Prevention Program, a collaborative effort between the hospital and the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University, have strategies for monitoring women at risk. Patients are monitored with physical examinations, ultrasound and blood tests every six months. "The goals of the program are to help women understand their personal risks and what they can do to decrease their risk, to help develop methods of early detection and prevention and to identify women who would benefit from preventive surgery," said Singh, also an associate professor at the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and member of the Lurie Cancer Center.
Studies have shown there are ways to reduce the risk of developing the disease. Women who use birth control pills for at least five years are three-times less likely to develop ovarian cancer. In addition, permanent forms of birth control such as tubal ligation have been found to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer by 50 percent. In cases where women have an extensive family history of breast or ovarian cancer, or who carry altered versions of the BRCA genes, may receive a recommendation to remove the ovaries and fallopian tubes which lowers the risk of ovarian cancer by more than 95 percent.
"Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, getting regular exercise, maintaining a normal body weight and managing stresses are all ways women can help decrease their risk of ovarian cancer," added Singh.
Treatment for ovarian cancer usually begins with surgery to determine if the cancer has spread. Doctors at Northwestern Memorial also use a form of chemotherapy called intraperitoneal chemotherapy, which is injected directly into the abdominal cavity and has been linked to a 15-month improvement in survival.
"The best scenario would be to prevent this cancer entirely but until that day comes women need to focus on good health behaviors, listen to their bodies and know their family history" stated Singh.
Provided by Northwestern Memorial Hospital
- Scientists discover new genetic marker of ovarian cancer risk Jul 20, 2010 | not rated yet | 0
- Preventive cancer surgeries save women's lives Aug 31, 2010 | not rated yet | 0
- Symptom screening plus a simple blood test improves early detection of ovarian cancer Jun 23, 2008 | not rated yet | 0
- Only women with Western Swedish breast cancer gene run higher risk of ovarian cancer Apr 05, 2010 | not rated yet | 0
- Study links obesity to elevated risk of ovarian cancer Jan 05, 2009 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Why is zone 1 in liver more prone to ischemic injury?
May 23, 2013 Hi, Is it because around central vein, there is only deoxygenated blood from the vein where as in the periphery there is hepatic artery. Also why...
How can there be villous adenoma in colon, if there are no villi there
May 22, 2013 As title suggest. Thanks :smile:
How can there be a term called "intestinal metaplasia" of stomach
May 21, 2013 Hello everyone, Ok Stomach's normal epithelium is simple columnar, now in intestinal type of adenocarcinoma of stomach it undergoes "intestinal...
Pressure-volume curve: Elastic Recoil Pressure don't make sense
May 18, 2013 From pressure-volume curve of the lung and chest wall (attached photo), I don't understand why would the elastic recoil pressure of the lung is...
If you became brain-dead, would you want them to pull the plug?
May 17, 2013 I'd want the rest of me to stay alive. Sure it's a lousy way to live but it beats being all-the-way dead. Maybe if I make it 20 years they'll...
MRI bill question
May 15, 2013 Dear PFers, The hospital gave us a $12k bill for one MRI (head with contrast). The people I talked to at the hospital tell me that they do not...
- More from Physics Forums - Medical Sciences
More news stories
In recent years, microRNAs (miRNAs) and other non-coding RNAs are small molecules that help control the expression of specific proteins. In recent years they have emerged as disease biomarkers. miRNA profiles have been used ...
Cancer 2 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Cancer cells spread and grow by avoiding detection and destruction by the immune system. Stimulation of the immune system can help to eliminate cancer cells; however, there are many factors that cause the immune system to ...
Cancer 2 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Researchers from London's Kingston University have begun a two-year study which could help prolong the lives of people with colorectal tumours.
Cancer 5 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0
Transformative research from Western University has identified new hormones in the body which may suppress breast cancer and stimulate the regression of breast tumors.
Cancer 6 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0
(Medical Xpress)—Curtin University researchers have found evidence that targeting specific cells in the body can reverse the effects of cancer on the immune system.
Cancer 6 hours ago | 5 / 5 (3) | 0
Two mutations central to the development of infantile myofibromatosis (IM)—a disorder characterized by multiple tumors involving the skin, bone, and soft tissue—may provide new therapeutic targets, according to researchers ...
36 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0 |
Talking on a hands-free device while behind the wheel can lead to a sharp increase in errors that could imperil other drivers on the road, according to new research from the University of Alberta.
4 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
(AP)—Government health officials are investigating several health problems reported with potentially contaminated medications made by a Tennessee specialty pharmacy.
30 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
(Medical Xpress)—A new study by researchers in the US has shown that an ancient virus can be modified to help in the fight against the simian immunodeficiency virus SIV, which is the equivalent in monkeys ...
6 hours ago | 5 / 5 (3) | 0 |
Women at a particular stage in their monthly menstrual cycle may be more vulnerable to some of the psychological side-effects associated with stressful experiences, according to a study from UCL.
3 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0 |
Biological processes are generally based on events at the molecular and cellular level. To understand what happens in the course of infections, diseases or normal bodily functions, scientists would need to ...
3 hours ago | 5 / 5 (2) | 0 |