Ovarian cancer: Recognise the silent threat by watching out for these 5 symptoms | Health - Hindustan Times

Ovarian cancer: Recognise the silent threat by watching out for these 5 symptoms

ByZarafshan Shiraz, New Delhi
Oct 29, 2023 05:11 PM IST

Ovarian cancer tends to go unnoticed in its early stages but here are some of the signs to watch out for

It is crucial to shed light on the often silent but deadly disease of ovarian cancer, which is known as the ‘silent killer’ as it is a formidable opponent and carries a significant threat to women's health. However, with advancements in its management nowadays, the outcomes are far better so let's dive into the facts, symptoms and treatments, with a focus on the role of cytoreduction surgery and Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy (HIPEC) in managing ovarian cancer.

Ovarian cancer: Recognise the silent threat by watching out for these 5 symptoms (Shutterstock)
Ovarian cancer: Recognise the silent threat by watching out for these 5 symptoms (Shutterstock)

Ovarian Cancer in India: A Growing Concern

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Monika Pansari, HOD and Senior Consultant Surgical Oncologist (Breast and Gynec Oncologist) at BGS Gleneagles Global Hospital in Bengaluru, shared, “In India, ovarian cancer is a growing concern. According to the latest data, it's the third most common gynaecological cancer in the country. While exact numbers vary year to year, the incidence has been on the rise. This trend emphasises the importance of understanding the disease and its treatment options.”

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Recognising the Silent Threat: Ovarian Cancer Symptoms

According to Dr Monika Pansari, ovarian cancer tends to go unnoticed in its early stages as the symptoms can be subtle and easily attributed to other common issues but some of the signs to watch out for include:

  1. Abdominal Bloating: Persistent and unexplained bloating, especially if accompanied by a feeling of fullness.
  2. Pelvic or Abdominal Pain: Chronic pain or discomfort in the pelvic or abdominal region.
  3. Difficulty Eating: Trouble eating or feeling full quickly, even when eating small portions.
  4. Frequent Urination: Increased urgency to urinate or changes in bowel habits.
  5. Fatigue: Unexplained fatigue that doesn't improve with rest.

Understanding Ovarian Cancer Treatment Modalities

Dr Monika Pansari revealed, “When it comes to treating ovarian cancer, early detection is key. The treatment options can vary depending on the stage of cancer and the patient's overall health. Common treatment modalities include surgery, chemotherapy, and targeted therapies but let's focus on two crucial components: cytoreduction surgery and HIPEC.”

Cytoreduction Surgery: Cutting Down the Tumor

Dr Monika Pansari explained, “Cytoreduction surgery, also known as debulking surgery, plays a pivotal role in the management of ovarian cancer. The goal of this surgery is to remove as much of the tumor as possible. Surgeons meticulously target and remove visible cancerous growths within the abdomen.”

This surgery is crucial for several reasons:

  • It helps reduce the tumor burden, making subsequent treatments more effective.
  • It can alleviate symptoms such as pain and discomfort.
  • It provides tissue samples for accurate diagnosis and staging.

HIPEC: Heating Up the Fight Against Cancer

Highlighting that Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy (HIPEC) is a specialised treatment that often follows cytoreduction surgery and designed to target any remaining cancer cells in the abdominal cavity, Dr Monika Pansari elaborated upon how HIPEC works -

  • After the tumour is removed, a heated chemotherapy solution is circulated throughout the abdominal cavity.
  • The heat enhances the effectiveness of the chemotherapy, and because it's localized, it minimizes exposure to the rest of the body.
  • This targeted therapy aims to destroy any microscopic cancer cells that may have been missed during surgery.

The Importance of Early Detection and Timely Consultation

Dr Monika Pansari said, “While surgery and HIPEC are essential components of ovarian cancer treatment, prevention and early detection are equally vital. Regular check-ups, awareness of the symptoms, and consulting a cancer specialist at the right time can make all the difference. Ovarian cancer is often detected in an advanced stage, making treatment more challenging. By being aware of the symptoms and seeking medical attention promptly, you can increase the chances of early detection and a successful outcome.”

She concluded, “Ovarian cancer is a significant health concern in India and around the world. Cytoreduction surgery and HIPEC offer promising options for managing this disease but early detection and timely consultation with healthcare professionals remain our most powerful tools in the fight against ovarian cancer. Let's spread the word and encourage women to be vigilant about their health, as early intervention can save lives.”

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