There are 314,000 women living with ovarian cancer in the world, according to the World Coalition against Ovarian Cancer. In 2021, it is estimated that 207,000 will lose their lives due to this disease, which is the seventh most common cancer and the fifth cause of death among women.
Ovarian cancer is a silent cancer and the leading cause of death among tumors of the female reproductive system. It is a pathology that originates in the ovaries and fallopian tubes, its symptoms are not very evident or confusing in patients, so it is commonly detected at an advanced stage when it has expanded to the pelvis and abdomen, which reduces the chances of survival and makes treatment difficult.
Projections from the Global Cancer Observatory estimate that by 2040, the number of diagnosed patients will increase by 42% and the number of deaths per year would rise to 313,000 women. “The 5-year survival of patients with ovarian cancer is 46% in the best of cases, which compared to the 90% chance of living that a patient with breast cancer has in the same period, It makes us reflect and think that it is time to give a voice to this silent cancer ”, commented Dr. Esteban Coto, AstraZeneca Medical Director for Central America and the Caribbean.
Although it is a tumor that is difficult to diagnose, some risk factors can be cited, according to the American Cancer Society, such as age (women over 50 are more likely to develop it), overweight, family history, change in some of their genes (mutation), not having had pregnancies or suffering from endometriosis. In fact, knowing the family history of ovarian cancer is very relevant, it is a cancer that could be hereditary and to find out it is necessary to carry out a genetic test.
Treatment for this cancer will depend on the stage at which it is diagnosed. Normally a patient with this type of tumor will require surgery, chemotherapy and / or radiotherapy and some cases would benefit from a targeted therapy that is used to interfere with the growth and division of cancer cells. To choose a treatment, the doctor may use additional tests, such as CT scans, X-rays, laparoscopies, or genetic tests.
“When we talk about genetic tests, it is estimated that 25% of women with ovarian cancer have a mutation in the BRCA gene, which is a gene that when it works normally does not allow cancer cells to grow and multiply but when there is a mutation it has less likely to control those diseased cells, which increases the risk of developing the disease but also provides an opportunity for the treating physician to identify the most appropriate treatment for that patient,” added Dr. Coto.
Accompanying the patient is vital
The psychological impact that ovarian cancer has on patients is significant, leading them to depression on many occasions, which is why it is important that they have constant support from their relatives; In addition, access to information and different treatment options is timely, all according to the stage of the disease in which it is found.
A Pap test does not detect ovarian cancer, which is why it is so important to know the common symptoms: persistent bloating, trouble eating, feeling full quickly, pelvic or abdominal pain, and having urinary discomfort. These symptoms tend to be confused with other diseases such as gastritis or colitis.