Cancer in Women: Detection is now just a test away!


A woman’s body is likely to change with age, time and environmental factors. Sometimes, the changes that seem normal can be signs of cancer, though.

Some of the cancers that most often affect women are breast, endometrial, ovarian and cervical cancers. Knowing about these cancers and what you can do to help prevent them or find them early may help save one’s life.

The symptoms may be easy to overlook and are usually diagnosed at a late stage when they are generally more difficult to treat. Efforts should be made to detect cancer at a very early stage by educating population about the risk factors.

There are several methods of diagnosing cancer. With advances in technologies that understand cancers better, there is a rise of number of diagnostic tools that can help detect cancers. Once suspected, diagnosis is usually made by pathologists, onco-pathologists and imaging radiologists.

There are a few limitations of attempting to diagnose cancers with conventional biopsy techniques guided by ultrasound or CT, like rupture of the cystic mass when a biopsy needle is inserted with possible spread of the tumor to other sites, or missing cancerous cells since some parts of the cyst may not contain cancer.

At Datar Genetics Scientists have studied innovative methods to detect cancer by identifying markers specific to the disease present in the blood. This method is called ‘Liquid biopsy’, which is simple, safe, sure and works on a highly sensitive platform.

In liquid biopsy, fluid or blood drawn from the individual is examined to find cancer cells and other biomarkers within the blood. The test utilizes gene sequencing to compare genetic markers within the person’s blood sample. Those markers are then contrasted with genetic markers found in common cancers such as ovarian, breast, lung, endometrial and colon cancers. If there are genetic markers that match, then the test has found evidence that the patient is at risk of contracting said cancer in the future. It is particularly helpful when a tissue biopsy can’t be done easily or if tissue is unavailable for any reason or if the original starting point (primary) of cancer is not known.

Liquid Biopsy can be used at various stages – for Cancer diagnosis, for early detection, for guidance on therapy management and for recurrence monitoring. It can also provide therapy guidance and helps monitor therapy success. It also helps to predict the response of patient to a drug and also if tumor has developed resistance to the treatment.

In the field of oncology, where innovations come and go without lasting impact, this novel non-invasive liquid biopsy is a life saver.

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Causes of ovarian cancer you should definitely know about


“I think cancer helps to transform a person… It affected me so much that it enabled me to grow, appreciate life and honor my body.” Says Manisha Koirala, while talking about her ovarian cancer that was diagnosed in 2012. There is very less awareness about ovarian compared to the breast cancer in India. Ovarian cancer affects the ovaries of women and most of the times; the increase in abdominal area is looked over. The symptoms are very hard to see and non-specific. Thus, the diagnosis happens at a stage when the cancer is hard to treat.

There are some early signs of ovarian cancer; like these mentioned below –

  • Pain and pressure in abdomen and it’s bloating.
  • Having trouble while eating and feeling full shortly after eating.
  • Increased urge of urinating and increased frequency.

Above symptoms do not necessary mean that the cancer is present, however, it is recommended to get the checkup done if those persist for more than a month.

Now let us see some common causes attributed to ovarian cancer.

Image credits - topinfopost.com/
Image credits – topinfopost.com/
  1. Inherited faulty genes

Most of the ovarian cancers are due to the genetic changes that occur in woman’s body during her lifetime and not necessarily inherited. Around 1 in 10 ovarian cancers are result of inherited gene mutation. These genes include BRCA1 & BRCA2 which are also responsible for increased risk of breast cancer.

The risk of developing ovarian cancer is more if you have close relatives (mother, sister, or daughter) who had ovarian or breast cancer. However, if they were less than 50 years of age at the time of cancer diagnosis, it is possible that their cancer was because of inherited faulty genes.

There are many genetic tests available which help to know your genetic make-up and family history. It also detects your risk for ovarian cancer.

  1. Previous breast cancer

Sometimes, same set of faulty genes is responsible for breast as well as ovarian cancer. i.e. women who earlier had breast cancer have more risk of developing ovarian cancer compared to general women population. If the diagnosis of breast cancer was before 40 years of age, the risk is four-fold.

If you had breast cancer before 40 and have a family history of ovarian cancer, you have 17 times the average risk of ovarian cancer.

If you think you may have a faulty gene, you can speak to your GP. There is more information about screening for ovarian cancer in this section.

  1. Fertility treatment

Some studies have linked fertility drugs to an increased risk of ovarian cancer, but recent studies do not support this. But there is a risk of ovarian tumours in infertile women who have been treated with IVF; however, infertility increases the risk of ovarian cancer more rather than its treatment.

  1. Hormone replacement therapy

Combined HRT is considered as one of the causes for ovarian cancer. A study observed that women using HRT for a few years were having more risk of developing ovarian cancer than women who had never used it. The risk is very low compared to the other causes.

  1. Using IUD

IUD means intra uterine device. It is one of the birth control measures used by females. A study has shown that women who use a coil (IUD) have an increased risk of ovarian cancer, but the risk is still small.

  1. Physical conditions

Checking BMI (Body Mass Index) in regular intervals is important. BMI shows if you are obese or underweight compared to your height. A study in 2008 stated the risk of being overweight for premenopausal & postmenopausal women. It was observed that premenopausal women with more than 30 BMI had a risk of ovarian cancer, but postmenopausal women had none. It is also found in a research that taller women have more risk of ovarian cancer than shorter women.

  1. Endometriosis

Research has shown that women with endometriosis have an increase in their ovarian cancer risk compared to women who do not. Endometriosis is a disease in which a tissue that generally grows inside the uterus grows outside it.

Smoking is one of the reasons of ovarian cancer. Image credits - archives.deccanchronicle.com
Smoking is one of the reasons of ovarian cancer.
archives.deccanchronicle.com
  1. Smoking

It is a proven fact that smoking causes many hazards- including lung cancer. However, it also has a role in ovarian cancer. A research showed an increased risk of mucinous ovarian tumours in smokers. However, the risk was back to normal after the smoking was stopped.

  1. Diet factors

Though the effect of diet on ovarian cancer is not yet highly established, studies show that diet high in animal fats may lead to ovarian cancer.

Prevention tips

It is said that prevention is always better than cure. Thus, here are a few tips important for the prevention of ovarian cancer.

– High level of blood calcium level means increased risk of ovarian cancer- make sure to get it monitored regularly.

– Contraceptive pills reduce the risk of ovarian cancer in women and also protect them from the disease even 30 years after they discontinue the medication.

– Women with family history of any cancer should never ignore any of the above mentioned symptoms.

– Hysterectomy reduces the risk of ovarian cancer by about one-third.

No matter what, screening is absolutely important. It not just screens for the cancer but many other genetic disorders and also helps you to take the necessary measures.

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