Share to Raise Cancer Awareness

卵巢癌的事实 (Get the Facts About Ovarian Cancer)

Ovarian Cancer: The Basics


Each year, more than 21,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and the diagnosis can be a scary one. The disease is often thought of as a “silent killer” — by the time it produces noticeable symptoms, the cancer is usually in a more advanced and less treatable stage. As a result, the disease is the fifth most common cause of cancer-related deaths among women.

The key to lowering that number? Early detection. 94% of women whose disease is caught in its early stages are still alive five years later. So get educated. Read on to learn how to spot the warning signs of the disease and what you can do to reduce your risk.



What Is Ovarian Cancer?


Ovarian cancer develops in the ovaries. The ovaries are the female reproductive glands that produce eggs for fertilization, and the hormones estrogen and progesterone.Almost all ovarian tumors are epithelial ovarian carcinomas — cancerous tumors that grow from the cells on the outer surface of the ovary.Some epithelial tumors are known as tumors of low malignant potential, or LMP tumors. LMP tumors grow and spread slowly, are not always cancerous and are generally considered less life-threatening than regular epithelial masses.





 Recognizing the Symptoms


Ovarian cancer can be hard to detect in its earliest stages — doctors still aren’t sure what causes the disease and it has symptoms that are easily attributed to less serious health problems. Common symptoms (lasting over 2 weeks) include:
  • Abdominal pain, pelvic pressure or bloating
  • Difficulty eating, or feeling full very quickly during meals
  • Changes to urinary behavior or bowel habits (you may have to use the restroom more often or feel a greater sense of urgency before you do)
Update: For women over the age of 50, recent findings show that ovarian cancer doesn’t start in the ovaries, but in the Fallopian tubes. 

Listen to audio clip below

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.



Determining Your Risk: Age


Because the symptoms can be so hard to spot, it’s important to know if you are at an increased risk for developing the disease.

A woman’s age is directly connected to her chances of developing ovarian cancer. Nearly half of the women who are diagnosed with the disease are over the age of 63; the disease is rare in women under 40. Women over the age of 50 are ten times more likely to develop ovarian cancer.





Determining Your Risk: Hormone Therapy


Some studies have shown that taking estrogen after menopause may increase the risk of contracting ovarian cancer; this seems especially true for women who take estrogen without progesterone for at least 5 to 10 years. Doctors are still researching why exactly hormone therapy raises the risk, as well as whether women who take both estrogen and progesterone after menopause are also at an increased risk.





Determining Your Risk: Obesity


A woman’s chances of developing ovarian cancer are strongly connected to her weight. Very overweight or obese women not only have an increased risk of contracting the disease, but also of dying from the disease.








Determining Your Risk: Personal and Family History


Women who have a family history of ovarian cancer, breast cancer or colon cancer (on the maternal or paternal side) may have a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer.

Doctors also believe that some women inherit changed or mutated genes that make them more susceptible to developing ovarian cancer. Inheriting changes to the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes (which are known as tumor suppressors) can increase your risk.

Women who have an increased familial risk should talk to their doctor about genetic testing and strategies for prevention.





Difficulties Detecting Ovarian Cancer


Because doctors still aren’t sure exactly what causes ovarian cancer, it’s a difficult disease to detect. Pap smears may be the go-to test for detecting cervical cancer, but they aren’t effective in screening for ovarian cancer. And routine pelvic exams often don’t uncover any signs of the disease.






When to See a Specialist


If you’ve undergone the screening tests, or your doctor has a reason to believe you might have ovarian cancer, he or she will probably recommend you see a gynecologic oncologist, an OB/GYN who specializes in dealing with the disease.

According to the American Cancer Society, ovarian cancer patients who are treated by such specialists live longer than those who are not.






Determining Your Diagnosis


X-rays, CT scans or ultrasounds can find potentially cancerous masses and determine whether or not the disease has spread. Your doctor will then perform a biopsy — a surgery to remove any suspicious masses, which will be sent to a lab for diagnosis.







Deciphering the Different Stages


The results of the biopsy, along with the screening tests, will enable your doctor to classify the cancer into one of four stages.

Stage 1: Cancer is contained within one or both ovaries.

Stage 2: Cancer has spread (also called metastasized) to organs within the pelvis.

Stage 3: Cancer has spread outside of the pelvis, usually to the abdomen or lymph nodes.

Stage 4 (most advanced): Cancer has spread to distant organs like the liver or the lungs.



 Treatment: Surgery


Surgery is the first step in treating ovarian cancer. Surgery is performed to remove as much of the cancer as possible. The extent of the surgery usually depends on the stage of the cancer. If the cancer is advanced, it may be necessary to remove the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes and surrounding tissues during surgery.







Treatment: Chemotherapy


Chemotherapy is usually the next step — sending potent drugs into the body, either orally or through an IV, to kill cancer cells.

But chemo can also damage healthy cells. So researchers are looking at a new approach called targeted therapy — drugs that kill cancer cells but minimize damage to normal cells. Research is still in the testing phase, and the FDA has not yet approved a targeted therapy drug to treat ovarian cancer.






Prevention: Awareness

 The subtle symptoms of the disease can make early detection difficult — but not impossible. Make an effort to tune in to your body. If you experience any common symptoms that seem worse than usual or last for a couple of weeks, make your doctor aware of your concerns.








Prevention: Have Children


Having children can reduce a woman’s risk of ovarian cancer, with each pregnancy lowering the risk further. Breastfeeding may also decrease the chances of developing the disease. Both pregnancy and breastfeeding increase the amount of the hormone progesterone in the body. Progesterone helps to shed abnormal cells from the surface of the ovaries.






Prevention: Take the Pill


Women who take birth control pills for at least five years are approximately 50 percent less likely to get the disease compared to women who have never taken oral contraceptives. Like pregnancy, oral contraceptives prevent ovulation. Some doctors think that ovulating less stops the cells on the ovaries from growing and dividing, and may help prevent ovarian cancer.







Prevention: Surgery


There are surgical options that may reduce the risk of ovarian cancer — tubal ligation (tying the fallopian tubes) or a hysterectomy(removal of the uterus). However, doctors usually only recommend these procedures for patients who are at high risk of developing the disease, and have other medical complications that would warrant the surgery.For women over 40 who have gone through menopause, removal of the ovaries is also an option. Experts recommend discussing the pros and cons of surgery with your doctor before making a decision.






Prevention: Eat Healthier


  While the results of studies that examine the connection between a low-fat diet and reduced risk of ovarian cancer have been mixed, the American Cancer Society recommends a diet rich in fruits, veggies and whole grains, and low in red and processed meats to keep your body running at its best. Though this website point to many studies that argue red meat and animal proteins should be eliminated entirely from one’s diet.






Fighting Cancer by the Plateful


No single food can reduce your risk of cancer, but the right combination of foods may help make a difference. At mealtimes, strike a balance of at least two-thirds plant-based foods and no more than one-third animal protein. This “New American Plate” is an important cancer fighting tool, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research. Check out better and worse choices for your plate.


Fighting Cancer With Color


Fruits and vegetables are rich in cancer-fighting nutrients — and the more color, the more nutrients they contain. These foods can help lower your risk in a second way, too, when they help you reach and maintain a healthy body weight. Carrying extra pounds increases the risk for multiple cancers, including colon, esophagus, and kidney cancers. Aim for at least five servings a day, prepared in a healthy way.


The Cancer-Fighting Breakfast


Folate is an important B vitamin that may help protect against cancers of the colon, rectum, and breast.  You can find it in abundance on the breakfast table. Fortified breakfast cereals and whole wheat products are good sources of folate. So are orange juice, melons, and strawberries.


More Folate-Rich Foods


Other good sources of folate are asparagus and eggs. You can also find it in chicken liver, beans, sunflower seeds, and leafy green vegetables like spinach or romaine lettuce. According to the American Cancer Society, the best way to get folate is not from a pill, but by eating enough fruits, vegetables, and enriched grain products.



Pass Up the Deli Counter


An occasional Reuben sandwich or hot dog at the ballpark probably isn’t going to hurt you. But cutting back on processed meats like bologna, ham, and hot dogs may help lower your risk of colorectal and stomach cancers. Also, eating meats that have been preserved by smoking or with salt raises your exposure to agents that can potentially cause cancer.


Cancer-Fighting Tomatoes


Whether it’s the lycopene — the pigment that gives tomatoes their red color — or something else isn’t clear. But some studies have linked eating tomatoes to reduced risk of several types of cancer, including prostate cancer. Studies also suggest that processed tomato products such as juice, sauce, or paste increase the cancer-fighting potential.



 Tea’s Anticancer Potential


Even though the evidence is still spotty, tea, especially green tea, may be a strong cancer fighter. In laboratory studies, green tea has slowed or prevented the development of cancer in colon, liver, breast, and prostate cells. It also had a similar effect in lung tissue and skin. And in some longer term studies, tea was associated with lower risks for bladder, stomach, and pancreatic cancers.


Grapes and Cancer


Grapes and grape juice, especially purple and red grapes, contain resveratrol. Resveratrol has strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. In laboratory studies, it has prevented the kind of damage that can trigger the cancer process in cells. There is not enough evidence to say that eating grapes or drinking grape juice or wine can prevent or treat cancer.


Limit Alcohol to Lower Cancer Risk


Cancers of the mouth, throat, larynx, esophagus, liver, and breast are all linked with drinking alcohol. Alcohol may also raise the risk for cancer of the colon and rectum. The American Cancer Society says that even the suggested daily limit of two drinks for men and one for women elevates the risk. Women at higher risk for breast cancer may want to talk with a doctor about what amount of alcohol, if any, is safe based on their personal risk factors.


Water and Other Fluids Can Protect


Water not only quenches your thirst, but it may protect you against bladder cancer. The lower risk comes from water diluting concentrations of potential cancer-causing agents in the bladder. Also, drinking more fluids causes you to urinate more frequently. That lessens the amount of time those agents stay in contact with the bladder lining.



The Mighty Bean


Beans are so good for you, it’s no surprise they may help fight cancer, too. They contain several potent phytochemicals that may protect the body’s cells against damage that can lead to cancer. In the lab these substances slowed tumor growth and prevented tumors from releasing substances that damage nearby cells.



The Cabbage Family vs. Cancer


Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, and kale. These members of the cabbage family make an excellent stir fry and can really liven up a salad. But most importantly, components in these vegetables may help your body defend against cancers such as colon, breast, lung, and cervix.


Dark Green Leafy Vegetables


Dark green leafy vegetables such as mustard greens, lettuce, kale, chicory, spinach, and chard have an abundance of fiber, folate, and carotenoids. These nutrients may help protect against cancer of the mouth, larynx, pancreas, lung, skin, and stomach.


Protection From an Exotic Spice


Curcumin is the main ingredient in the Indian spice turmeric and a potential cancer fighter. Lab studies show it can suppress the transformation, proliferation, and invasion of cancerous cells for a wide array of cancers.


Cooking Methods Matter


How you cook meat can make a difference in how big a cancer risk it poses. Frying, grilling, and broiling meats at very high temperatures causes chemicals to form that may increase cancer risk. Other cooking methods such as stewing, braising, or steaming appear to produce fewer of those chemicals. And when you do stew the meat, remember to add plenty of healthy, protective vegetables.


A Berry Medley With a Punch


Strawberries and raspberries have a phytochemical called ellagic acid. This powerful antioxidant may actually fight cancer in several ways at once, including deactivating certain cancer causing substances and slowing the growth of cancer cells.



Blueberries for Health



The potent antioxidants in blueberries may have wide value in supporting our health, starting with cancer. Antioxidants fight cancer by ridding the body of free radicals before they can do their damage to cells. Try topping oatmeal, cold cereal, yogurt, even salad with blueberries to boost your intake of these healthful berries.


Pass on the Sugar


Sugar may not cause cancer directly. But it may displace other nutrient-rich foods that help protect against cancer. And it increases calorie counts, which contributes to overweight and obesity. Excess weight can be a cancer risk. Fruit offers a sweet alternative in a vitamin-rich package.


Don’t Rely on Supplements


Vitamins may help protect against cancer. But that’s when you get them naturally from food. Both the American Cancer Society and the American Institute for Cancer Research emphasize that getting cancer-fighting nutrients from foods like nuts, fruits, and green leafy vegetables is vastly superior to getting them from supplements. Eating a healthy diet is best.
source: WebMD

Ovarian Cancer Infographics:

(special thanks to Mantesh)

Related Posts

Recommended Post