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Ovarian cancer is one of the most fatal cancers for women due to it often being found only in its late stage. It is cancer whereby the growth of cancer cells forms in the ovaries. These cells can multiply quickly and destroy healthy body tissue in a woman.
The main purpose of ovarian cancer screening is to:
Ovarian cancer is likely to affect you if you are above the age of 50, but it is never too late to get screened for ovarian cancer, especially if this cancer runs in your family.
As symptoms of ovarian cancer are not obvious, they are frequently overlooked – this often leads to late diagnosis, making the condition more difficult to treat and cure.
Signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer to look out for include:
Abdominal bloating or swelling, and quickly feeling full when eating.
Constipation, frequent need to urinate or other changes in bowel habits.
Discomfort in your pelvic area.
Blood tests and scans are the optimal methods when it comes to ovarian cancer screening. However, this is highly dependent on:
Ovarian cancer screening can involve one or a series of tests such as:
A pelvic exam in which a doctor inserts gloved fingers into the vagina while simultaneously pressing a hand on the abdomen to feel a woman’s pelvic organs. The doctor will also visually examine the external genitalia, vagina and cervix.
Imaging tests such as a CT, ultrasound or MRI scan to check the size, shape and structure of the ovaries in the abdomen and pelvis.
Removing a small sample of cells or fluid from the ovaries to be sent to a lab for further testing.
Blood tests to check for organ function and determine the overall health of a woman.
Surgery if ovarian cancer cannot be determined on a surface level.
Genetic testing to check for any increased risks of ovarian cancer in a woman’s family history.
The risk of a woman developing ovarian cancer increases as she gets older. Ovarian cancer is likely to develop in women above the age of 40 or after menopause.
Women above the age of 63 years old have the highest chance of developing ovarian cancer. It is rare for a woman under the age of 40 to develop ovarian cancer; however, if there is a history of ovarian cancer in the family, it is better to be safe and get ovarian cancer screening to rule out any signs of ovarian cancer.
Further, if you’re a young individual and fall into the following categories, consider getting screened for ovarian cancer:
Have been pregnant.
Been on birth control in the past.
If any cancer cells or ovarian cancer is detected, further tests and procedures will follow in order for the doctor to determine the best course of action.
Ovarian cancer has four stages.
At Stage 1, cancer cells are still confined to the ovaries. At Stage 4, however, cancer has already spread to other areas of the body.
If no signs of ovarian cancer are detected after ovarian cancer screening, depending on if any symptoms start to show or if ovarian cancer is present in the family history, your healthcare provider may recommend you to return for screening when necessary or advised.