September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.
“Get your checks ups and know your body.”

It’s not clear what causes ovarian cancer.
In general, cancer begins when a genetic mutation turns normal cells into abnormal cancer cells. Cancer cells quickly multiply, forming a mass (tumor). They can invade nearby tissues and break off from an initial tumor to spread elsewhere in the body (metastasize).

Types of ovarian cancer
The type of cell where the cancer begins determines the type of ovarian cancer you have. Ovarian cancer types include:

 – Epithelial tumors, which begin in the thin layer of tissue that covers the outside of the         ovaries. About 90 percent of ovarian cancers are epithelial tumors.
 – Stromal tumors, which begin in the ovarian tissue that contains hormone-producing cells.
These tumors are usually diagnosed at an earlier stage than other ovarian tumors. About 7 percent of ovarian tumors are stromal tumors.
 – Germ cell tumors, which begin in the egg-producing cells. These rare ovarian cancers tend to occur in younger women.

Early-stage ovarian cancer rarely causes any symptoms. Advanced-stage ovarian cancer may cause few and nonspecific symptoms that are often mistaken for more common benign conditions, such as constipation or irritable bowel.

Signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer may include:

  • Abdominal bloating or swelling
  • Quickly feeling full when eating
  • Weight loss
  • Discomfort in the pelvis area
  • Changes in bowel habits, such as constipation
  • A frequent need to urinate

When to see a doctor
Make an appointment with your doctor if you have any signs or symptoms that worry you. If you have a family history of ovarian cancer or breast cancer, talk to your doctor about your risk of ovarian cancer. Your doctor may refer you to a genetic counselor to discuss testing for certain gene mutations that increase your risk of breast and ovarian cancers. Only a small number of women are found to have genetic mutations that can lead to ovarian cancer.

Prevention
There’s no sure way to prevent ovarian cancer. But certain factors are associated with lower risk:

  • Use of oral contraceptives, especially for more than 10 years
  • Previous pregnancy
  • History of breast-feeding
  • Daily use of aspirin

Get your checks ups and know your body. Eat healthy, stop smoking, exercise, and limit alcohol consumption a few steps that you can take to be the best you!  Live your best life!

 

Article by:  Joanna Cavacini, RN, MSN

Leave a reply