How do You Check for Ovarian Cancer at Home?

When abnormal cells multiply uncontrollably, break their normal limits to infiltrate the surrounding body parts and move to other organs, they are categorized as to have developed into cancer. It is a broad category of disorders that can affect practically every organs of the body.

The multiplication of the cancer cells known as metastasizing is a significant contributor to cancer-related mortality.

1. Types of Cancers

Listed below are some of the most common among other cancers.

  • Breast Cancer
  • Cervical Cancer
  • Ovarian Cancer
  • Lung Cancer
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Stomach Cancer
  • Thyroid Cancer
  • Colorectal Cancer
  • Liver Cancer

While men are more likely to develop lung, prostate, colorectal, stomach, and liver cancer, women, on the other hand, are more likely to develop breast, colorectal, lung, cervical, ovarian, and thyroid cancer.

2. How and Why do Cancer Cells Multiply?

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In normal cases, the cells in our body divide and multiply in an orderly way to replace worn-out or damaged ones. Despite this, excessive cell growth and division may end up in an accumulation of tissue known as a tumor.

Now, tumors can broadly be classified into two types. First comes the benign tumor; these types of tumors are rarely harmful and are thus deemed non-cancerous. The second type-malignant tumor, however, falls into the category that causes cancer and is often times deemed life-threatening and calls for immediate cancer treatment.

3. Its Causes and Effects

Genetic mutations, or alterations of the genetic material (DNA) in your body’s cells, are the primary causes of cancer. Mutations in the DNA can be inherited or may develop later in life as an outcome of external factors like being exposed to UV rays, smoking or drinking habits, pollution, bacteria., etc.

The physical, psychological, and financial toll that cancer takes on people, families, communities, and health systems throughout the world keeps escalating. Several, especially developing countries’ health systems however are ill-equipped to handle these burdens, and many cancer patients internationally lack access to prompt, effective diagnosis and treatment.

4. Ovarian Cancer

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Mutation and multiplication of the cells in the ovaries of females lead to ovarian cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, ovarian cancer remains the female reproductive system’s leading cause of death.

There are three types of ovarian cancer: epithelial ovarian cancer, stromal tumors and germ cell tumors.

4.1 Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer

In most of the cases, ovarian cancer does not initially develop any noticeable symptoms. Symptoms of ovarian cancer are often mistaken for those of other, more common diseases when they appear. Therefore, to all the female friends out there, it is advised you be aware of the warning signs of ovarian cancer and if there be any, go and get yourself a thorough check-up.

Symptoms of ovarian cancer may thus include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Abdominal swell
  • Pelvic pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Back pain
  • Unexpected weight loss or gain
  • Urinary problem
  • Changes in bowel movement

4.2 Risk Factors for Ovarian Cancer

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Several factors can raise your risk of developing ovarian cancer, such as:

  • Those who have a family history of other reproductive cancer
  • Those who have been detected with breast cancer before
  • Those who use hormonal replacement therapy post-menopause
  • Those who have inherited gene mutations linked to cancer like BRCA1, BRCA2, and Lynch syndrome.
  • Those who smoke
  • Those who have undergone hormone replacement therapy
  • Those who conceive after the age of 35

The American Cancer Society says that, despite ovarian cancer being the fifth most common cancer among women, a woman’s lifetime risk of developing it is still quite low.

5. Guide to Checking for Ovarian Cancer at Home

Owing to its minimal to nil symptoms, detection of ovarian cancer at home is next to impossible. However, if you have been keeping track of your symptoms of late and they match with the symptoms of ovarian cancer, it’s suggested that you consult a physician in general or a gynecologist in particular.

If needed, run through a series of tests to be on the safer side, the details of which have been discussed in the following content.

6. Detection of Ovarian cancer

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Several tests are run by doctors to diagnose ovarian cancer cells and the sooner you visit the doctor for the detection of these cancer cells, the better the chances of you receiving a proper treatment plan.

To determine your risk of ovarian cancer or early ovarian tumors, it is advised that, irrespective of your age, you book a regular appointment with your gynecologist for a routine health check-up.

Therefore it is crucial to see a doctor even if you don’t have any of the aforementioned symptoms. The different ways of detecting ovarian cancers are:

6.3.1. Pelvic Exam

During the Pelvic Exam, the doctor physically examines the size, shape, and consistency of your pelvic organs (uterus and ovaries) using two gloved fingers. This process helps the doctor detect any inflammation, if there’s any, and helps avoid the risk of ovarian cancer.

6.3.2. Imaging Tests

Physical examination of your genital organs offers just a brief or a general idea of the possibly overlying diseases. Therefore, in order to get a better understanding of your ovaries, your doctor might want to perform imaging tests.

Two types of imaging tests include Transvaginal Ultrasound and CT scan. Transvaginal ultrasound

Transvaginal Ultrasound is a process in which the doctor inserts a probe, known as a “transducer“, into your vagina that further helps detect the structures of your body displayed on a computer screen via sound waves. CT Scan

Abbreviation for “Computed Tomography,” CT Scans is yet another process that helps capture photos of your insides via an X-ray.

6.3.3. Blood Tests

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Organ function tests may be included in blood test, which may help determine your general health.

Moreover, your doctor may run a test of your blood for tumor markers that which may show warning signs of ovarian cancer. One test that can find this protein, for instance, is the cancer antigen (CA) 125 test. It is frequently present on the surface of ovarian cancer cells.

However, higher concentrations of CA-125 are frequently brought on by common diseases including endometriosis and pelvic inflammatory disease, also, not all women with ovarian cancer seem to have an elevated CA-125 level. Therefore, measuring the levels of CA-125 may not really help in the diagnosis of ovarian cancer cells.

6.3.4. Genetic Testing

Your doctor might prescribe examining a sample of your blood for gene alterations that raise the risk of ovarian cancer. If there be any ovarian cancer symptoms (that you might’ve possibly inherited) then this early detection helps provide best treatment options for you and your family.

Genetic testing helps doctors determine the stage of your cancer (if there’s any) spanning from stage I to stage IV. The early stage of ovarian cancer is restricted to the ovaries only. In the following stages though, the cancer will have spread to other organs.

6.3.5. Biopsy

Among all the other tests mentioned above, a biopsy is the only way to definitively determine if you have ovarian cancer.

This process generally involves surgery, performed by a gynecologic oncologist, wherein he/she removes the suspected cancerous tissue, which is further sent to a lab for analysis.

The tissue will then be examined and tested under a microscope by a pathologist to determine whether it is cancerous or not.

You might undergo further exams, such MRI or PET scan, if ovarian cancer cells are detected. And once all of this is done, the stage of your cancer is determined and a course therapy full of procedural treatments like chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy etc., will be allotted for you.

7. Prevention

Ovarian cancer might have subtle early signs and symptoms that make them challenging to identify. Therefore, the best we can do to prevent it is leading a lifestyle that helps reduce the risk of contracting this deadly disease.

These preventive measures include decreasing your intake of processed meats, abstaining against smoking and alcohol consumption, and adopting a Mediterranean-style diet that emphasizes plant-based foods, lean proteins, and healthy fats and exercising on a regular basis and maintaining an ideal body weight and body mass index (BMI) and most importantly getting a regular check-up.

8. Conclusion

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Ovarian cancer among females still remains one of the challenging diseases that are difficult to detect and treat. Women should be aware of ovarian cancer risk factors, symptoms, and screening alternatives to act accordingly if they have been showing any signs and symptoms.

Last Updated on December 26, 2023 by