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Watching Out for Ovarian Cancer

Aug 17, 2007
One of the cancers that are among the deadliest is ovarian caner. It is rare, but it is among the most deadly, with a low survival rate in the final two stages. This is because it is a relatively silent killer that often progresses beyond any hope of healing before it is discovered. New tests are allowing doctors to catch this disease earlier, improving chances of survival, but it is still a little-known menace that affects women.

Ovarian cancer initially attacks the ovaries. As with most cancers, the exact cause of the cancer is not completely known. However, it does start in the ovaries. If caught soon enough, the ovaries can usually be removed, with a very god chance of success. The key, however, is catching the cancer early. It needs to be caught in its first or second stage for the best chance of survival. And therein lies the problem. Most of the time, the cancer is not found until it is in the third or fourth stage. These stages are pretty much too late for most people. The fourth stage especially, as by this time the cancer has probably spread throughout the body. This cancer cannot be detected by a pap smear. Therefore, it is important that you inform your doctor of a family history of ovarian cancer (genetics is the main indicator and cause) and any other irregularities. Even though improved tests can help detect the cancer earlier than before, it is important that your physician be on the look out for indicators.

Some of the symptoms of ovarian cancer include irregular menstrual cycles (although many women have these anyway, but someone prone to cancer will find that birth control does not properly regulate it), frequent nausea and fever, and vaginal bleeding. A frequent need to use the bathroom is another indication of the possibility of ovarian cancer. All of these things need to be discussed with your doctor so that she or he knows what the possibilities might be.

Behaviors that are though to reduce the risk (although nothing can completely eradicate the risk of ovarian cancer) include healthy diet and exercise, oral contraceptives, breastfeeding, and having at least one full-term pregnancy. Of course, none of these behaviors are complete protection against any illness, including cancer, but it can help you reduce your chance of developing it. Surgical procedures are also thought to help. Things like having your tubes "tied" and also the removal of the ovaries can reduce your risk as well. Although, interestingly enough, even removing your ovaries does not completely eliminate your chances of developing ovarian cancer (even though it helps significantly).

By understanding your family history and taking care to live a healthy lifestyle, you can probably avoid ovarian cancer. It is a rare cancer, but more deadly perhaps because of that rarity. Most women are not likely to get it, but it is a good idea to be on your guard, especially if there is a history of ovarian cancer in your family.
About the Author
Learn more about ovarian cancer, and other cancers and their treatments at The Cancer Directory
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