Ladies, our ovaries have been our best friends for life (yes! They say ovary is a woman’s best friend since you can totally live without the striking presence of diamond in your life). I think men will agree vehemently with this since it tends to relieve the pressure on their wallets.
Ovaries have been with us since before birth. The amazing ways they have taken care of us cannot be described in words, but we sure can try. Here is what they have got for us!
What amazing ovaries do:
- Loads of amazing estrogen secretion. It is the sex hormone that heralds the onset of much-awaited puberty in a girl’s life. This magical molecule is the driving force of feminine essence.
- It is the amazing potion that develops our sexual organs and imparts secondary sexual characters.
- Our radiant, supple skin, our high pitch (interestingly sharp and sonorous) voice is a generous gift from the ovaries.
- Our strong bones are a living testimony to the love ovaries have for us. After menopause, we lose the strength, bones become porous and soft and are extremely susceptible to fractures.
- The monthly menstrual cycle is the master plan of the ovaries, along with the intellectual centers of the brain.
So, what happens when our best friends become our enemies (heartbreaking and utterly sad, right!)? Life becomes invariably difficult.
Many cancers arise from the deep, convoluted secrets of our ovaries, and mind you, they are the leading cause of death among female genital cancers.
Here is what our besties do when they turn hostile and decide to make life hell for us ladies (really, and you thought that only men made life difficult for us!):
Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer
- They cause weight loss and loss of appetite as much as any other cancer would do, and these are warning symptoms that ladies should be able to catch (yes ladies, not every effortless weight loss is a compliment from life!) It is important for us to ask ourselves that the weight loss that is occurring is due to our own efforts or not and whether they are proportional to our efforts. Next time your rings come loose on your fingers, or your clothes seem loose, do indulge in some introspection about it. Loss of appetite is never good (unless you are morbidly obese!).
- A vast majority is benign, and they only cause pressure symptoms. So, if you are getting urinary urgency or hesitancy and feel that your lower tummy is a little heavy, it could be a symptom. The problem with these ovarian beasts is that they can attain huge sizes (though pretty uncommon), and if you Google search some pictures, you will be amazed to see mind-boggling masses protruding down their abdomens. These are the ones that cause pressure symptoms and make you spend a major chunk of your day in the washroom.
- Abnormal uterine bleeding is an uncommon manifestation. It is just a fancy word for irregular menses or intermenstrual spottings or very heavy menstrual bleeds. The fact is, hormone-secreting ovarian cancers (Theca and Granulosa Cell Tumours) are pretty down below the list of commonly occurring cancers. Nonetheless, a woman should get alarmed when she has abnormal menstrual bleeds, as it is a sign or some problem underneath.
- Ascites, or simply fluid collection in the tummy, is a very late feature of ovarian cancer. It is a bad, bad sign, and generally, a good healthcare system does not let anyone reach there.
- Being cancer, it has a dogged tendency to move to other organs and wreck havoc on your body. Sometimes, the first presentation of ovarian tumors are metastases in the liver and lungs.
The Story of Prevention
There is a reason they say prevention is the best cure and a reason the government spends good money on Cancer Screening Programmes. While we have not been able to develop a good screening test for Ovarian Cancers, we have done groundbreaking work in the field of Cervical Cancer (also, let us not forget that in India, Cervical Cancer is the major killer of women).
Here is what we can do for prevention:
- Be aware. A good, attentive mind is a shield against cancers. You should be able to read the telltale signs of cancer. Getting to see a Gynaecologist or Physician early is the best chance we stand against the ovarian malignancies.
- Be aware of your own family history. A mother, sister or daughter with ovarian, breast or colon cancer could be a very strong indicator of a possible tumor later in life, or even in the present where it is lying dormant, or possibly in the earliest stage, and burrowing through your body. BRCA2 gene runs in family and causes great upheavals.
- Pre and postmenopausal women should get regular health check-ups with their Gynaecologists. Women in this age bracket are very prone to abnormalities and various other pathologies, likely cancers. So if you love yourself and your mothers and grandmas, do get them to see a doctor on a regular interval.
- Women at very high risk are advised to get genetic testing done for BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations. Furthermore, they increase the risk of Breast and Colon cancers; and these women need frequent screening and consultations to detect cancers.
The Cancer Treatment
Without a doubt, the leading cause of mortality in gynecological cancers worldwide is ovarian cancer; life does not end if someone develops ovarian cancer. In fact, most of these cancers are benign. All they need is surgical removal.
There are plenty of surgical advancements that have made operative modalities the treatment of choice. These are pretty popular among surgeons and are minimally invasive; which decrease infection rates and keep the outcome exceedingly positive in almost all cases. Once the tumor is removed, the patient gets tremendous relief and the quality of life improves exponentially.