Ovarian Cancer: Women Health is Precious!


To be a woman is not so easy. In different religious views, women are considered respectfully than others. We have born from a woman who is our mother. A woman has to play many roles in her family. But often we become careless about their health; sometimes we do not realize that the person who is always beside us may have some physical problem. Nowadays one of the most common problems among women is ovarian cancer.

In a straight, when cells in the body begin to grow abnormally cancer starts. Ovarian cancer has become a threat to women who have reached to menopause mainly. From the name, it can be understood that ovarian cancer occurs in ovaries. These organs are very fundamental for reproduction as they produce eggs and female hormones estrogen and progesterone.

Now if these ovaries play a vital role in women’s life then shouldn’t we care about the disease of ovaries? The answer must be yes from most of the person who can feel the pain of being a mother. But an awful fact is that our women most of the time do not know about that they might have ovarian cancer. A letter diagnosis of this serious issue can be even more harmful than earlier diagnosis.

Ovarian cancer has four main symptoms:

  • Persistent stomach pain
  • Difficulty eating or feeling full more quickly
  • Persistent bloating
  • Needing to urination more frequently

According to World Cancer Research Fund International, Ovarian cancer is the seventh most common cancer in women worldwide among 18 most common cancer, with 239,000 new cases diagnosed in 2012.

The countries with the highest incidence of ovarian cancer in 2012 are:

  • Fiji had the highest rate of ovarian cancer, followed by Latvia and Bulgaria.
  • The highest incidence of ovarian cancer was in Europe and Northern America; and the lowest incidence in Africa and Asia.
  • About 58% of ovarian cancer cases occurred in less developed countries.

Stage determination of ovarian cancer is done by International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) system. This system determines-

  • extent of the primary tumor (mainly denoted by the letter T)
  • absence or presence of metastasis to nearby lymph nodes (mainly denoted by the letter N)
  • absence or presence of distant metastasis (mainly denoted by the letter M)

After categorizing of T, N and M of a patient ovarian cancer is staged into four main categories-

Stage I:

The cancer is only within the ovary or ovaries. It has not extended to organs and tissues in the abdomen or pelvis, lymph nodes or to distant areas. Stage I has the sub-categories:

  • IA: Cancer has developed in one ovary and the tumor is confined to the inside of the ovary. There is no cancer on the external surface of the ovary.
  • IB: Cancer has developed in both of the ovaries but has not spread on their outer surfaces.
  • IC: Cancer has been developed one or both of the ovaries and tissues surrounding the tumor broke during surgery, whereas the outer surface of the diseased ovary is ruptured before surgery.

Stage II:

The cancer is developed in either one or both ovaries and spread in other organs but with the exception of lymph nodes or distant sites. There are two sub-categories of stage II:

  • IIA: Cancer that started in the ovaries has invaded the uterus or the fallopian tubes, or both.
  • IIB: Invasion of cancer into other nearby pelvic organs for instances the bladder, the sigmoid colon or the rectum.

Stage III:

The cancer is in one or both ovaries and following consequences occur:

  • Cancer has spread beyond the pelvis to the lining of the abdomen
  • Cancer has spread to lymph nodes in the back of the abdomen (retroperitoneal lymph nodes)

This stage has been divided into many of sub-divisions for the ease of treatment procedures. This stage is very serious for ovarian cancer patients. Appropriate treatment is critically required for the betterment of patient.

Stage IV:

This is the most progressed stage of ovarian cancer in which cancer has spread to the inside of the spleen, lungs, liver or other organs located outside the peritoneal cavity. Two sub-categories have been found for this stage:

  • IVA: Cancer cells are found in the fluid around the lungs. This is called a malignant pleural effusion.
  • IVB: Cancer has reached to the inside of the spleen or liver to lymph nodes also the retroperitoneal lymph nodes and to further organs or tissues outside the peritoneal cavity.

The main treatments for ovarian cancer are:


The main treatment for ovarian cancer is surgery which has mainly two goals:

  1.  Finding out how far the cancer has spread (staging)
  2. Removing as much of the cancer as possible (debulking)

For ovarian cancer, the most common operation includes the removal of ovaries, Uterus and both of the fallopian tubes. A layer of fatty tissue that covers the stomach area, called Omentum is removed as well.

Chemotherapy: To kill the cancer cells or minimize the size of tumors chemotherapy is employed which refers to the use of many chemotherapeutic agents or drugs through vein or mouth as well as abdomen. This treatment is mainly useful when the disease has spread ahead of the ovaries.

Targeted therapy: Targeted therapy has brought newer development in the treatment of ovarian cancer which has a selective effect on the cancer cell and causes reduced destruction of normal cells. Radiation therapy: While Radiation therapy is rarely used in developed countries due to its side effects. Radiation therapy includes high energy X-rays to destroy cancer cells or tumors.

As ovarian cancer patients are increasing day by day, alertness programs should be designed and executed for the betterment of treatment and minimizing the percentages of severing stage patients. Because it is about women health who brought us to the world!

Farzana Khan Sristy is a pharmacy student, has completed her graduation under the department of Pharmacy, East West University. She has interest on recent development of treatment methods and drugs. She is doing her research on Phytochemical activities. Farzana is a student correspondent at Association of Life Science and Engineering Writers (ALSEW). She can be reached at farzana_sristy@yahoo.com
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