Complexity of Ovarian Cancer: From Silent Beginnings to Advanced Symptoms

Ovarian cancer (1)
Cancer Care

Ovarian cancer often begins as a small solid nodule in the ovary, initially presenting silently. As the tumor grows, it exerts pressure on adjacent organs, leading to symptoms such as increased urination frequency, constipation, or indigestion. In advanced stages, the tumor may cause significant abdominal swelling and breathing difficulties.


"Early detection is paramount in the fight against ovarian cancer. Through advanced imaging techniques and diligent screening protocols, we can swiftly identify and address this disease, leading to better treatment outcomes and improved quality of life for patients." - Dr Mathangi, Sr. Consultant and In-charge Radiation Oncologist



The exact causes of ovarian cancer remain elusive, but certain factors increase the risk:

  • Obesity: Excess body weight, particularly around the abdomen, is associated with an increased risk of ovarian cancer.
  • Advanced Age: Ovarian cancer is more common in older women, with risk rising significantly after menopause.
  • Nulliparity: Women who have never given birth (nulliparous) have a higher risk of ovarian cancer compared to those who have had children.
  • Endometriosis: A history of endometriosis, a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus, is linked to a higher risk of ovarian cancer.
  • Genetic Mutations: Inherited genetic mutations, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2, significantly increase the risk of ovarian cancer. These mutations are also associated with an elevated risk of breast and colorectal cancer.
  • Family History: A family history of ovarian, breast, or colorectal cancer raises the risk of developing ovarian cancer, indicating a genetic predisposition to the disease.


Diagnosis and Tests:

  • Pelvic ultrasound or transvaginal ultrasound (TVUS) are non-invasive imaging tests that provide detailed images of the ovaries and surrounding structures
  • CA-125 is a blood test that measures the levels of a protein called cancer antigen 125, which may be elevated in ovarian cancer cases. Elevated CA-125 levels, in conjunction with imaging findings, can aid in the diagnosis and monitoring of ovarian cancer.
  • Advanced imaging modalities like MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) or CT (Computed Tomography) scans offer detailed cross-sectional views of the abdomen and pelvis. These imaging techniques help assess the extent of disease spread, identify tumor characteristics, and guide treatment planning.
  • Combining these imaging tests with clinical evaluation and other diagnostic tools enhances the accuracy of ovarian cancer diagnosis and staging.



  • Surgery:
    Surgery is a cornerstone of ovarian cancer treatment, ranging from fertility-preserving options in early stages to extensive procedures involving the removal of affected organs, lymph nodes, and peritoneum. Cyto-reductive surgery aims to remove as much disease as possible, often followed by chemotherapy.


  • Chemotherapy:
    Chemotherapy is crucial for treating microscopic disease and preventing recurrence. It may be administered intravenously or directly into the abdominal cavity for advanced cases. Targeted therapy and immunotherapy offer additional options, particularly for metastatic cancers.


  • Genetic Testing:
    Genetic testing is vital for high-risk patients with a family history of ovarian cancer. Germline mutational analysis helps identify genetic mutations, guiding treatment decisions. Molecular analysis aids in tailoring therapy for recurrent or resistant cancers.


Untangling myths about ovarian cancer is essential for early detection and effective management. By recognizing the signs and symptoms, undergoing appropriate tests, and accessing advanced treatment options, individuals can navigate this complex disease with greater awareness and empowerment. To learn more about ovarian cancer and the latest advancements in treatment, consult a healthcare professional today.


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