New Delhi: Since ovarian cancer, the third most commonly detected cancer among Indian women, has very silent symptoms, women can take care of themselves by staying vigilant and going for regular health checkups, doctors have advised on the occasion of World Cancer Day on Tuesday.
It is a malignancy that occurs in the ovaries, the female reproductive organs that produce the ova or eggs.
Though the disease starts in the ovaries, it can spread to surrounding pelvic organs, followed by upper abdominal organs and other organs like lungs.
If anything in the body does not feel normal, especially with the abdomen, one must consider visiting a medical expert.
“This fatal gynaecological disease is not easily detectable, as its symptoms are not prominent. A bloated stomach, frequent urination, longer bouts of acidity are some of the most common indirect signs which can be related to this condition,” said Dr Shyam Aggarwal, Senior Consultant, Medical Oncology, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in New Delhi.
“However, there are some direct symptoms of ovarian cancer such as abnormal vaginal bleeding, pain during sex, irregular and painful periods, a slight pain in the lower back and thighs, which are severe indicators but are detectable only at later stages,” Aggarwal said.
Although there are no standard screening guidelines to detect ovarian cancer, a routine gynaecological checkup with methods such as the transvaginal ultrasound (TVUS) and the CA-125 blood test can help detect the malignancy in time.
The disease has largely been known to affect women in the post-menopausal phases i.e. between the age group of 50 to 70 years, although it has also been frequently observed in females of a younger age bracket with genetic disposition.
The disease comprises four stages (I, II, III, IV). With the right treatment at each stage, the disease can be managed and treated.
In stage-I, surgery is the most advised treatment option where the tumour is removed.
In stage-II and III, surgery and sessions of chemotherapy are the lines of treatment.
At stage-IV, which is the last stage of the malignancy, palliative care is given to the patient to control and manage the symptoms and further spread of the disease.
“If in time the right treatment is given to the patient, the survival rate in stage-I could be up to 90 per cent. Though, if the detection is delayed, the survival rate drops,” added Aggarwal
An article published in the journal Lancet Oncology in 2018 showed that Delhi has the second-highest rate of ovarian cancer in India after Kerala, followed by Arunachal Pradesh and Punjab.
Greater awareness and timely detection can help in effective management and treatment of this disease, providing a quality living.