In a female body, two ovaries on each side of the uterus make up the female reproductive system. Each ovary, roughly the size of an almond, produces eggs (ova) as well as oestrogen and progesterone hormones.
When the cells grow and multiply quickly, they can form a mass or tumor. It is called ovarian cancer.
There are many myths related to ovarian cancer. Let’s know more about ovarian cancer, its causes, and some myths and facts about the same.
What is ovarian cancer?
Ovarian cancer is a kind of cancer that begins in the ovary’s cells. Ovarian tumors are classified into three categories, each of which is called for the tissue in which it is found:
- Epithelial cell tumors: These tumors develop from cells that coat the ovary’s surface. Most ovarian cancers are epithelial cell tumors.
- Germ cell tumors: The cells that form the eggs in the ovary give rise to these tumors.
- Stromal cell tumors: These tumors form in the ovary’s structural tissue cells, which produce female hormones.
Ovarian malignant (cancerous) tumors may develop and spread to other body regions. For malignant tumors, doctors may suggest a variety of therapy methods.
The vast majority of ovarian tumors are noncancerous. Doctors may opt to remove the whole ovary or only the area of the ovary having the tumor to treat benign ovarian tumors.
Leading causes of ovarian cancer
Ovarian cancer is increasingly common as people become older. More than half of all occurrences occur in those aged 65 and over. In India, ovarian cancer has become one of the most frequent illnesses among reproductive and growing-age women.
Cancer cells developing in the ovary contribute to around 4% of all cancers in women. It is, however, a very aggressive malignancy that is one of the top causes of mortality in women.
If you’ve had your ovaries removed, you can’t acquire ovarian cancer.
However, if you fall into any of the following risk factors, you are more likely to get ovarian cancer. You are at risk if you:
- Are overweight
- Are taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
- Had breast cancer or bowel cancer
- Had radiotherapy treatment for a previous cancer
- Have endometriosis or diabetes
- Have never used any hormonal contraception, such as the pill or an implant
- If you started your periods at a young age or had a late menopause (over 55), or haven’t had a kid – because these things may indicate that you’ve released more eggs (ovulated more)
- Inherited a defective gene, such as BRCA or Lynch syndrome.
Let’s now talk about some common myths about ovarian cancer.
Common Myths and Facts
The following are some of the most frequent ovarian cancer misconceptions and their facts.
Myth: You will be protected by the HPV vaccination.
Fact: The HPV vaccination can only protect you against certain forms of human papillomavirus (HPV), which may lead to HPV-related cancers such as cervical cancer. Although there are no vaccinations available to protect against ovarian cancer, there are strategies to minimize your risk.
Myth: Pap smears aid in the early detection of ovarian cancer.
Fact: A Pap smear isn’t the best way to determine whether you have ovarian cancer. Pap smears may detect cervical cancer but no other gynecological malignancies. When cancer spreads to adjacent tissues and organs, most women are detected later. You’ll be surprised to learn that there is no test available to identify ovarian cancer in its early stages.
Myth: Early-stage ovarian cancer does not cause any symptoms in women.
Fact: Women are more likely than males to have the signs of this malignancy. It is possible to be misdiagnosed with stomach discomfort or even menstruation difficulties. However, bloating, unexpected changes in bowel or urination habits, pelvic or abdominal discomfort or pressure, pain during sex, quick weight loss for no apparent cause, or indigestion are not to be ignored. Check yourself for ovarian cancer since these symptoms might be severe.
Myth: Unless you have a family history, there is no reason to be concerned.
Fact: While having a family history of the illness increases your chances of being diagnosed, numerous other risk factors might raise your chances of being diagnosed. Age, being overweight, smoking, having diabetes, endometriosis, diabetes, and not having children are all examples.
Myth: Ovarian cancer is incurable and untreatable.
Fact: Some women get overwhelmed and quit after learning that they have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. But keep in mind that even if the disease is advanced, it may be treated, and women can have a healthy life after that. So don’t give up hope and get therapy as soon as possible.
Myth: Ovarian cancer cannot develop in women who have undergone a hysterectomy.
Fact: During a hysterectomy, a surgeon removes the uterus and, in most cases, the cervix. The fallopian tubes and ovaries may be removed in certain circumstances. Even when the ovaries are removed, there is a very minimal probability of infection. Ovarian cancer may develop whether one or both ovaries are left intact.
Myth: Ovarian cancer is impossible to prevent.
Fact: With the support of a well-balanced lifestyle, you can keep ovarian cancer at bay. Maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly, and regularly check your vitamin D levels. Fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, pulses, and legumes are excellent choices. Foods high in fat, oil, or processed should be avoided.
Ovarian cancer generally develops without symptoms, making detection challenging. So it’s critical to know your family history and discuss any suspected ovarian cancer risk factors with your doctor. Then, if you have any signs of ovarian cancer, contact your doctor straight once.
Also, stay informed and don’t lose hope after believing in such myths. Stay updated with the accurate information and focus on your treatment.