Did you know that ovarian cancer is the 5th most common cancer in Singaporean women? With the majority of cases affecting women from 40 to 60 years, statistics from the Singapore Cancer Registry Annual Report 2018 showed that 4.9% of women in Singapore are being affected by cancers of the ovary and fallopian tube. Although ovarian cancer is less common compared to other gynaecological cancers, it is the most deadly. Read on to know more.
What is ovarian cancer?
As its name suggests, ovarian cancer refers to malignant or cancerous cell growths from different parts of the ovaries. Ovaries are a part of a woman’s reproductive system, located in the pelvis. Did you know that each ovary is only the size of an almond? It produces the estrogen and progesterone hormones, and also releases eggs, which will travel through the fallopian tubes to the womb or uterus
What causes it?
Unfortunately, the exact cause for ovarian cancer is unknown. There are, however, some women who are at a higher risk for this cancer. Some of the risk factors associated with ovarian cancer are:
- Late pregnancy or women who have never been pregnant
- Early onset of menstruation or late menopause
- Personal history of cancer (breast, uterus, colon or rectum)
- Genetic predisposition (family history of ovarian cancer)
- Endometriosis (a health condition where tissues similar to uterus lining grows outside of the uterus)
Symptoms to look out for
Also known as a silent killer, there are often no symptoms in the early stages of ovarian cancer. When symptoms arise, the cancer is often advanced. Some of the symptoms may include:
- Swelling and discomfort of the abdomen
- Nausea, gas, indigestion, or diarrhoea
- Loss of appetite
- Back pain
How is it diagnosed?
There are several ways to diagnose ovarian cancer:
- Ultrasound scan – Internal ultrasound (known as a transvaginal ultrasound), where a probe is inserted into the vagina. An external ultrasound, on the other hand, is put next to the stomach. The ultrasound images can show if there are any cysts that may be present in the ovaries.
- Pet CT or CT scan – Image scans of the abdomen, chest and pelvis to help look for signs of cancer in other areas of the body.
- CA 125 blood test – It is a protein, which is found on the surface of ovarian cancer cells and some normal tissues. High levels of CA-125 could indicate the presence of cancer or other conditions. However, this test is not used alone to diagnose ovarian cancer.
- Chest x-rays – Used to detect if other areas of the body are affected.
- Surgery or biopsy – Ultimately needed to prove if the affected cells are cancerous and originate from the ovaries.
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What are the treatment options?
Most women have surgery and chemotherapy for ovarian cancer. The aim of surgery is to remove as much of the cancer as possible, besides determining the stage of the cancer. The surgeon may also remove ovaries, the uterus and its surrounding lymphatics.
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Early diagnosis and treatments are important
Although there hasn’t been researches that proves early detection of ovarian cancer can increase chances of longer survival, early diagnosis and treatments are still important. Have regular cancer check-ups and do not ignore symptoms if you are around the perimenopausal age group.
Adopt a healthy lifestyle and try to eat healthier foods as some food contain ‘phytochemicals’, such as berries, garlic, onions, mushrooms, spinach and other leafy green vegetables to fight cancer and reduce risk of its development. Here’s a light-hearted read from a counsellor’s perspective, from journeying with cancer patients and their family members. Read here.
How you can prepare for the unexpected circumstances
Protect yourself with a reliable cancer insurance so you are prepared in the event of unexpected circumstances. Tiq’s Cancer Insurance offers protection up to $200,000 for all stages of cancer.In addition, you get 6% no-claim discount upon renewal when you stay in good health, with no claims made during the previous year policy term. We know you deserve to be protected! Learn more.
Information is accurate as at 3 August 2021. This policy is underwritten by Etiqa Insurance Pte. Ltd. (Company Reg. No. 201331905K. Protected up to specified limits by SDIC. You should seek advice from a financial adviser before deciding to purchase the policy. If you choose not to seek advice, you should consider if the policy is suitable for you. As this product has no savings or investment feature, there is no cash value if the policy ends of if the policy is terminated prematurely. It is usually detrimental to replace an existing policy with a new one. A penalty may be imposed for early termination and the new plan may cost more or have less benefit at the same cost. This advertisement has not been reviewed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.
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