September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Ovarian cancer is one of the most deadly women’s cancers, affecting approximately 22,880 women each year. During ovarian cancer, one or more malignant cancerous cells are found in the ovaries, which are almond-shaped organs located on each side of the uterus.
Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer
Ovarian cancer is difficult to detect because the symptoms aren’t obvious and the ovaries are deep within the abdominal cavity. The common ovarian cancer symptoms include:
- Frequent urination
- Trouble eating
- Pelvic pain
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Changes in menstruation
- Upset stomach or heartburn
Stages of Ovarian Cancer
There are four stages of ovarian cancer and your doctor will determine your stage during surgery. These are the stages of ovarian cancer:
- Stage I ? Growth of the cancer is limited to the ovaries. Stage I includes an A, B and C phase. Each describe exactly where in the ovaries the cancer is located, such as whether the cancer is on the outside of the ovary or whether it is confined to the inside of the ovary.
- Stage II ? During stage II, the cancer involves one or both of the ovaries with pelvic extension.
- Stage III ? Growth of the cancer is in one or both of the ovaries. Stage III also involves the cancer spreading beyond the pelvis and/or spreading to the lymph nodes.
- Stage IV ? Stage IV is the most advanced stage of cancer. At this stage, cancer is seen in one or both the ovaries and it has spread to organs outside of the peritoneal cavity.
What are My Treatment Options?
How to properly treat ovarian cancer depends on the stage. There are three main treatment options available, including:
- Surgery ? This is the most common way to treat ovarian cancer.
- Chemotherapy ? Chemotherapy is used in a majority of ovarian cancer treatments after surgery.
- Radiation Therapy ? This is only rarely used for ovarian cancer treatments.