Ovarian cancer is a disease which causes harmful cancerous cells to grow and spread throughout a woman's ovaries. Stages one and two are typically considered to be the early stages of the disease, while stages three and four indicate the presence of advanced ovarian cancer. This advanced form of the disease occurs when the cancer cells spread beyond the ovaries and into the pelvic region, surrounding lymph nodes, or even into various other organs of the body. Treatment for advanced ovarian cancer may consist of surgical intervention, chemotherapy, or radiation treatment.
Symptoms of advanced ovarian cancer are not always present. When symptoms do appear, they often mimic other less serious medical conditions, frequently delaying diagnosis until it is too late for doctors to effectively treat the cancer. At this point, the various treatment options are more successful at easing symptoms than significantly increasing the life expectancy of the patient.
Some of the most commonly reported symptoms of advanced ovarian cancer include pain, menstrual irregularities, and urinary changes. Pain is usually caused when the tumor grows so large that it presses against nerves and other structures. This pain is most often felt in the lower abdominal region of the body, as well as the back or thighs. Menstrual irregularities vary widely and may consist of periods which are significantly heavier and longer-lasting, although some women with advanced ovarian cancer may notice very infrequent menstrual periods. Urinary changes may involve trouble urinating or an increased frequency of urination.
Advanced ovarian cancer is possible for women of any age, although it is more common among those who have already gone through menopause. Certain medications, including those used to treat endometriosis or certain hormone replacement medications, may increase the risks of developing this disease. Women who are obese or who have a family history of cancer affecting the reproductive system also have increased risk factors.
Surgery may be somewhat helpful in treating advanced ovarian cancer, although it may not be possible to surgically remove all of the cancerous tissue, especially if the cancer has spread to other organs of the body. Chemotherapy and radiation treatment may help to alleviate severe pain caused by the disease, but at best, it tends to only prolong the patient's life for an additional few months. Any questions or concerns about advanced ovarian cancer or the most appropriate treatment methods for an individual situation should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.