What Are Genes And What Do They Have To Do With Ovarian Cancer
Genes are a part of your DNA and are essentially the blueprint your cells use to reproduce themselves. Youre born with a particular genetic makeup. Your genes can be influenced by your family and by changes that happen to your genes over time. These changes are called mutations. Two of the most common gene mutations that have been pinpointed as being related to ovarian cancer are BRCA1 and BRCA2.
The BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are inherited meaning you get part of each gene from each parent. Your genes are twin pieces . You could have a mutation in one part of the gene without having cancer. However, if both parts of the gene are mutated, cancer can develop. BRCA1 and BRCA2 typically suppress the growth of cancerous cells. Mutations keep these genes from doing their job and preventing abnormal cell growth. BRCA1 and BRCA2 are also linked to breast cancer.
Gene mutations arent always inherited. Throughout your life, your genes can change. A somatic mutation is one that happens over time. One common genetic mutation thats seen in ovarian cancer is a somatic mutation of the TP53 gene. The mutation changes part of the gene the protein called the p53 protein. This protein normally works to fight tumors and keep them from developing. However, when its changed by this mutation, it cant keep the tumor from growing. This same process can happen to many different genes in your body and they can all contribute to cancer growth.
Can I Have Palliative Or Hospice Care At Home
Most areas have palliative care and hospice teams who work in the community. Your GP or clinical nurse nurse specialist will be able to refer you to this team, which often will have a palliative care medical consultant, a palliative CNS and other professionals to support you. The palliative CNS will come and visit you at home to support you and help you manage your illness as well as provide support to your loved ones. They may see you in an outpatient clinic if you are well enough to attend.
There are also schemes such as Hospice at Home, where nurses from the hospice, community team or offer hands-on nursing care at home, particularly in the last weeks of life. Marie Curie nurses work nationwide and Hospice at Home services are now available in many areas.
Obesity Or Weight Gain
Obesity or weight gain is associated with an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer. This is thought to be because fat tissue can convert male sex hormones into estrogens, which stimulates the growth of cells in the ovaries. One analysis found that overweight or obese women had a 20 to 30 percent increased relative risk of developing ovarian cancer compared to women who were not overweight or obese.
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What Is Brca1 Or Brca2
Normally, BRCA1 and BRCA2 are tumor suppressor genes that halt abnormal cell growth in the ovaries. If 1 of these genes mutates, it can increase your risk of developing cancer. You have a 50% chance of inheriting the BRCA gene mutation if 1 of your parents has it.
Women with a mutation in either their BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes have 10-to-30 times increased risk of ovarian cancer. BRCA1 increases the chance of ovarian cancer even more than BRCA2.
Genetic testing for BRCA1 or BRCA2 gives you information about your predisposition of developing ovarian cancer. While it sounds rare, 1 in every 500 women in the United States has a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation.
What Are Ovarian Cancer And Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Ovarian cancer is a disease in which ovarian and/or ovarian-related cells become abnormal and multiply causing tumor. Irritable bowel syndrome is a chronic, functional gastrointestinal disorder.
- Ovarian cancer can spread to other organs and areas of the body while irritable bowel syndrome is not cancer and is occurs only in the digestive tract.
- Ovarian cancer occurs usually in older women while irritable bowel syndrome can occur in men, women, and children.
Irritable bowel syndrome is a chronic, functional disorder of the gastrointestinal tract. There are two sub-types of irritable bowel syndrome, IBS-C or irritable bowel syndrome with constipation and IBS-D or irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea.
Why Does Ovarian Cancer Cause Pain
The tumor puts pressure on your organs, nerves, bones, and muscles. This pressure causes pain. The more the cancer spreads and the larger the tumor is, the more severe and consistent the pain becomes. In advanced stages such as in stage 3 and 4 ovarian cancers, pain often is the main symptom of ovarian cancer.
Sometimes, the ovarian cancer pain can develop as a result of treatments that are given to control the growth of the tumor. Such treatments that can cause pain as a side effect may include such as chemotherapy, surgery, or radiation therapy. Chemotherapy can cause pain in the arms, legs, hands, and feet. Chemotherapy may also leave painful sores around your mouth.
Surgery for ovarian cancer can cause pain and soreness that can stay for up to a few weeks after the procedure. Treatment-related pain however improves after the therapy is stopped unlike the cancer pain which worsens with time.
Ovarian Cancer Discharge Color
The vaginal discharge ovarian cancer can cause is often clear, white, or colored with blood.
Normal discharge is usually milky white or thin and clear and typically has no odor. It may also be clear or brown at different stages of a persons menstrual cycle.
Vaginal discharge may be a symptom of infection if it is:
- foul-smelling, such as with a fishy odor
- yellow, green, or frothy
- thick and white like cottage cheese
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Why Does Ovarian Cancer Cause Bloating
If you have ovarian cancer, your bloating is likely caused by ascites. Ascites is when fluid builds up in your abdomen.
Ascites often form when cancer cells spread to the peritoneum. The peritoneum is the lining of your abdomen.
They can also develop when cancer blocks part of your lymphatic system, which causes fluid to build up because it cant drain out normally.
Bloating is one of the first symptoms of ovarian cancer that you may notice, but its usually considered a sign of advanced disease.
Does Ovarian Cancer Spread Quickly
Ovarian cancer grows quickly and can progress from early stages to advanced within a year. With the most common form, malignant epithelial carcinoma, the cancer cells can grow out of control quickly and spread in weeks or months.
It is critical to pay attention to symptoms, which may help improve your chances of being diagnosed early and treated promptly. Detecting cancer while it is early will improve the prognosis. Unfortunately, 80% of ovarian cancer patients are not diagnosed until the disease has spread throughout their abdominal cavity.
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How To Manage Back Pain Caused By Ovarian Cancer
Treating cancer pain can be no easy feat. It is recommended that you follow recommendations as discussed by your oncologist to manage your pain.
One way to treat the pain caused by cancer is to remove the source of the pain or minimize the source. This can be done by surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation, for example. Keep in mind, as discussed, that the treatment of pain can also cause pain during the process.
Sometimes, the tumor may be ineligible for these types of treatments, or you may opt to not treat your tumor. Or, as discussed, the treatment causes pain during the process of actually treating the pain. So what do you do in these circumstances?
Well, you treat the pain directly with medication or without medication.
Using Medication for Back Pain
For pain that is mild to moderate in intensity, non-opioids or non-narcotic medications are typically prescribed to manage the pain. Medications in this category include acetaminophen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs .
NSAIDs are typically avoided if youre on chemotherapy, blood thinners, steroids, or will be having surgery for your tumor within one week.
Sometimes, you may be prescribed nonconventional medications to treat your pain.
More About Using Opioids
Opioids came in many different varieties and depending on your needs, and you may be prescribed a variety of different types of opioids to manage your pain.
Sometimes these two types are used together to control chronic pain.
Knowledge Can Help Beat Ovarian Cancer
Ovarian cancer is called “the silent killer” because it doesnt show manyor sometimes anysymptoms until its progressed to a later stage. In fact, only 19 percent of cases are spotted in the early stages.
“Typically, ovarian cancer is discovered in its later stages after the symptoms become more pronounced,” explained Geisinger hematologist-oncologist Namita Sharma, MD. “The cancer affects other parts of the body like the bladder or rectum by placing pressure on them, and thats often when a woman will visit her doctor.”
But there are some subtle signs that could emerge indicating something is wrong. These changes in your body may seem minor, and could even be mistaken for another less serious health issue. But if they last longer, they shouldnt be ignored.
Here are four signs you shouldnt ignore:
Bloating happens. Sometimes its a big meal other times its due to typical hormonal fluctuations during your menstrual cycle. But bloating everyday isnt normal. If you notice that your jeans fit tighter and you feel bloat several days a week for more than two or three weeks, it may be cause for concern.
“Bloating could be due to an issue with your diet, but if you make some changes and the bloating persists, visit your doctor for an exam,” said Dr. Sharma.
Increased need to urinate
Lower abdominal/pelvic pain
In addition, some people may notice fatigue, back pain or pain while having sex.
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Is Bloating An Early Symptom Of Ovarian Cancer
Ovarian cancer is more likely to cause noticeable symptoms during advanced stages, once the cancer has begun to spread. However, doctors are increasingly realizing that symptoms such as bloating can also appear during the early stages of ovarian cancer. Recognizing and quickly telling your doctor about ovarian cancer symptoms, including bloating may, help with early detection. When ovarian cancer is caught early, it can be treated more easily and has a much better prognosis.
Pain And Ovarian Cancer
Abdominal pain may be an early symptom of ovarian cancer, while other types of pain may be the result of later-stage disease or certain treatments for ovarian cancer. No matter the cause, people with ovarian cancer can experience pain in different ways and in different places. The good news is that there are ways to manage this pain.
If you experience pain with ovarian cancer, talk to your health care team about how to handle it. As your health care team manages treatment for the cancer itself, they can help you actively manage any pain you experience. It may take some time to figure out the right pain management plan, but you can play a role in finding the best path forward.
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What Are Some Risk Factors For Ovarian Cancer
The exact causes of ovarian cancer are not known. However, studies show that the following risk factors may increase the chance of developing this disease:
- Family history first-degree relatives , especially if two or more have had the disease. A family history of breast or colon cancer also is associated with an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer.
- Age most ovarian cancers occur in women 50 years of age or older, with the highest risk in women older than 60.
- Non-childbearing women who have never had children. In fact, the more children a woman has had, the less likely she is to develop ovarian cancer.
- Personal history women who have had breast or colon cancer may be at greater risk.
- Obesity women who are obese have a higher rate of death from ovarian cancer.
- Fertility drugs drugs that cause women to ovulate may slightly increase a woman’s risk.
- Talc some studies suggest that women who have used talc in the genital area for many years may be at increased risk of developing ovarian cancer.
- Hormone replacement therapy some evidence suggests that women who use HRT after menopause may have a slightly increased risk of developing this disease.
Recognizing The Signs And Symptoms Of Ovarian Cancer
In its earliest stages, ovarian cancer does not cause symptoms. As the disease progresses there may be symptoms, but many women ignore the warning signs because the symptoms of ovarian cancer mimic so many other far less serious concerns. That’s why all women should pay close attention to their bodies, stay alert for changes in their health, and resist the temptation to self-diagnose. Unusual symptoms should not be ignored.
Early detection of ovarian cancer can impact the outcome of treatment. You should consult your health care provider if you are experiencing any of these troubling symptoms more than 12 days per month, or if you have consistent symptoms for more than two weeks.
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How Can You Treat Ovarian Cancer
Ovarian cancer treatment optionsinclude surgery and chemotherapy or targeted therapy. Surgery involves removing the affected ovary or the ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus and performing a biopsy to evaluate cancer cells.
- Surgery is the primary treatment. You can choose to remove the ovary and tissue affected by cancer. However, some women prefer to remove both ovaries and their uterus and fallopian tubes to reduce the risk of recurrence.
- Chemotherapy is a treatment that enters your bloodstream and destroys cancer cells. It can be beneficial, but it also damages the bodys healthy cells.
- Hormone therapy blocks the production of hormones that cause tumors to grow and spread.
- Targeted therapy is a newer treatment that kills cancer cells but minimizes damage to healthy cells.
- Radiation therapy is for cancer that has spread beyond the ovaries. It uses energy particles and X-rays to destroy cancer cells.
How Long Can Ovarian Cancer Go Undetected
Ovarian cancer can go undetected for years without revealing its existence. Unfortunately, ovarian cancer symptoms are vague and at this time there is no accurate way to identify the disease in its earliest stages. As a result, ovarian cancer often goes undetected until it has spread throughout the pelvis and abdomen. At this later stage, the disease is more challenging to treat. The earlier that ovarian cancer is detected, the better the outcome.
Which Ovarian Cancer Vs Ibs Symptoms And Signs Are Different
Ovarian Cancer Symptoms and Signs
Ovarian cancer is difficult to diagnose until late in the disease because often symptoms do not occur until the tumor has grown large enough to apply pressure to other organs in the abdomen, or until the cancer has spread to remote organs . Moreover, ovarian cancer symptoms are similar to many diseases and conditions so often cancer is not the first problem considered to be causing symptoms.
The only early symptom of ovarian cancer can be irregular vaginal bleeding. Symptoms late in the disease include:
- Pelvic pain or pressure
Can You Fully Recover From Ovarian Cancer
Yes, many women fully recover from ovarian cancer following surgery and/or chemotherapy. Ovarian cancers caused by stromal or germ cell tumors have high survival rates. However, epithelial carcinoma is the most common type of ovarian cancer and has lower survival rates.
The 5-year-survival rate for malignant epithelial carcinoma at various stages follows:
- Localized is 92%
- Regional 76%
- Distant 30%
- All stages combined 47%
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What Is Ovarian Cancer
The ovaries are the part of the female reproductive system that produce eggs every month during a woman’s reproductive years. They are located on either side of the lower abdomen. Ovarian cancer occurs when cells in the ovary grow and divide uncontrollably. The cells may form a tumor on the ovary, or they also can break off from the main tumor and spread to other parts of the body. Although ovarian cancer can spread throughout the entire body, in most cases it stays in the abdomen and affects organs such as the intestines, liver and stomach. There are several types of ovarian cancer. However, most cancers of the ovary come from the cells that make up the outer lining of the ovary.
As Ive Learned Throughout My Cancer Journey The Symptoms Of Ovarian Cancer May Feel Ordinary At Times But Its Important To Listen To Your Body
Before my diagnosis, I always saw my gyno when I was supposed to and got an annual Pap smear. However, that typically only detects cervical cancernot ovarian cancer. When you seem healthy and dont have any problems, youre not going to go to the ob-gyn for an ultrasound .
Otherwise, signs of ovarian cancer can be notoriously difficult to spot, so make sure to pay attention to even slight symptoms or changes. Constant indigestion or painful periods are worth getting checked out. And if you have a family history of cancer, its all the more important to go in for regular check-ups and screenings. Im the oldest of six childrenI have two sisters and three brothers. In light of my experience, my youngest sister has been more vigilant about her reproductive health and requests to be checked with an ultrasound at her check-ups, just in case.
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