Ovarian cancer is type of cancer that affects only women. It is caused by growth of malignant cells in the ovaries. There are several different types of ovarian cancers, of which epithelial ovarian cancer is the most common.
The majority of the women who have this type of cancer will need to have their ovaries and fallopian tubes removed in order to stop the spread of the disease.
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The symptoms of ovarian cancer often overlap with symptoms of other conditions of the urinary and reproductive organs, which is one of the many reasons why ovarian cancer is very rarely detected in the initial stages.
Ovarian cancer typically progresses in stages. A bloated, full feeling or pain in the abdomen or side are symptoms of very early stage cancer. However, not all women experience these initial symptoms. Some women only begin to experience the symptoms when the cancer has progressed to the next stage and has grown outside the ovary.
Common Ovarian Cancer Symptoms At Advanced Stages Include:
- Cramping pain in the lower abdomen, pelvis or back caused due to indeterminate reasons;
- Unusual vaginal bleeding;
- Distended abdomen;
- Loss of appetite or a feeling of fullness;
- Urinary problems or passing urine more often than normal.
If you experience any of these symptoms on a regular basis, or for more than 2 or 3 week consistently, you must schedule an appointment with your doctor. Seeking medical attention is especially important if you are at high risk for developing this type of cancer.
You may be at a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer if any of these pertain to you:
- You are over the age of 50;
- You are on oestrogen replacement therapy;
- You started menstruating before you were 12 years old;
- You went through menopause before you the age of 52;
- You have never been pregnant;
- You have undergone or your are currently taking fertility treatments;
- You are a smoker;
- You use an IUD as a form of birth control;
- You have been diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome;
- There is a family history of the disease.
When you go in for medical check up for any of the symptoms, your doctor will first conduct a thorough a physical examination and ask for your medical history. The doctor will also ask you to do a few diagnostic tests to eliminate certain disorders and make an accurate diagnosis.
Some of the tests you may have to undergo include but are not limited to:
- A trans-vaginal ultrasound where the ultrasound wand is inserted through the vagina to get a better view of the ovaries and uterus;
- A CT (computed tomography) scan, bone scan and/or PET ( positron emission tomography) scan;
- A biopsy;
- A paracentesis procedure, where a small amount of fluid is removed from the abdomen and checked for the presence of malignant cells;
- Specific blood tests.
The treatment plan that will be used will be determined by your general health and the stage of ovarian cancer that you have. Your doctor will help you to decide which treatments are best for you.
Radiation therapy and chemotherapy are the most common treatments for cancer. Both radiation and chemotherapy may be used alone or in conjunction with other treatments and surgeries.
Surgical Treatments For Ovarian Cancer May Include:
- Salpingo-oophorectomy – this involves removal of the ovaries and the fallopian tubes.
- Hysterectomy – this could be either a partial hysterectomy in which the uterus is removed or a complete hysterectomy, in which the uterus and the cervix are removed.
- Lymphadenectomy – in this procedure the lymph nodes located in the groin and pelvic region are removed.
- Omentectomy – this involves the removal of the tissue that is over the stomach and large intestine.
- Cytoreductive surgery – this procedure is done to remove as much of the cancerous tissue as possible. This surgery is only done after the cancer has started to spread to the areas of your body. It often involves the removal of tissue from organs that are in close proximity to the ovaries such as the gall bladder, colon, spleen and stomach.
The earlier any cancer is diagnosed, the better the chances of treating the disease completely. However, because the symptoms of ovarian cancer overlap with so many other conditions, the risk of cancer misdiagnosis is higher than usual.
Very often, the symptoms are associated with post menopausal bleeding or abdominal discomfort and treated for these conditions. When this happens, the undetected malignant cells keep multiplying and the disease can spread to other parts of the body. In its advanced stage, ovarian cancer is very difficult to treat and can be fatal.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with advanced stage cancer that was misdiagnosed in a previous medical check up, you may be entitled to file a claim for medical negligence.
You can file a claim under any of these circumstances:
- Your family history was not taken accurately;
- No examinations were carried out to detect the presence of cancer cells;
- You were not referred to an oncologist for further investigation;
- All diagnostic tests were carried out but they were misinterpreted and the cancer cells went undetected.
If your advanced stage cancer has resulted due to misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis, you should look into exercising your right to claim compensation for the pain and suffering caused.
The first step is to consult with an experienced medical negligence solicitor who will assess your case and give you proper advice as to how to proceed. If the evidence is in your favour and you have a strong case, your solicitor will advise you to go ahead with your claim. They will also almost certainly help you further by agreeing to represent you on a No Win No Fee basis, which essentially means that you pay nothing for their legal counsel till after you have won the case and receive the compensation for ovarian cancer misdiagnosis that has been awarded to you.