The ovaries are two oval reproductive glands which are part of the female reproductive system. They sit on either side of the uterus and are close to the fallopian tubes. The primary function of the ovaries is to secrete and release eggs. They also create and secrete hormones including estrogen and progesterone.
When ovarian cells change or begin to behave abnormally, cysts and tumors can begin to grow. Most ovarian cysts and tumors are non-cancerous. In some cases, tumors with precancerous cells can turn into ovarian cancer.
Ovarian cancer will start in one of three different types of cells found in the ovaries:
• epithelial cells
• stromal cells
• germ cells
Epithelial ovarian cancer is the most common type of ovarian cancer. The epithelial cells form the tissue that covers the ovaries.
Causes & Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer
Scientists are unsure what the cause of Ovarian cancer is, though there are accepted risk factors.
Risk factors of Ovarian cancer include:
• fertility drug use
• hormone replacement therapy use
• family history of ovarian, breast, or colorectal cancer
• personal history of breast cancer
• genetic conditions
• never being pregnant to term
Other possible risk factors include:
The early stages of ovarian cancer, most often, do not cause any symptoms. Some of the following symptoms can be caused by things other than ovarian cancer, so it is important to visit your physician for a proper diagnosis.
Recognizing the symptoms of ovarian cancer can help with early diagnosis.
Symptoms of Ovarian cancer include:
• abnormal vaginal bleeding
• pain in the lower abdomen
• abdominal bloating
• urinary urgency or frequency
• abdominal mass
• weight loss
• painful intercourse
Who Gets Ovarian Cancer
Ovarian cancer cases are usually found in women over 60 years of age. The risk rises with age. Women who have carried a baby to term before they were 26 years of age have a lower risk of ovarian cancer than those who have not. Further, the risk of ovarian cancer decreases with each successive full term pregnancy. Using oral contraceptives also lower the risk of ovarian cancer.
Prognosis if You Have Ovarian Cancer
The overall 5-year survival rate for all types of ovarian cancer combined is 45%. Women under 65 tend to have more positive outcomes than their older counterparts.
5 Year Survival Rates for ovarian cancer:
• Stage Ia, Ib – 92 percent
• Stage Ic – 85 percent
• Stage II – 70 to 78 percent
• Stage III – 39 to 59 percent
• Stage IV – 17 percent
Conventional medicine’s main types of treatment for Ovarian Cancer include:
• Radiation therapy
• Palliative therapy
How to Prevent Ovarian Cancer
Discuss hormone replacement therapy and/or oral contraceptives and their risks and benefits with your doctor. If you plan on having children and your life situation allows, plan for full-term pregnancy before the age of 26. Avoid asbestos exposure. Maintain a healthy weight by being active and eating a healthy diet: vegetables; fruits; whole-grain bread, pasta, and cereals; fish; poultry; and beans. Also, you should limit animal protein, processed meat, and a diet high in fat.
Immune System Health
A healthy immune system remains your body's best defense. Not only is a weak immune system a major reason patients have cancer — and cancer itself can further weaken the immune system.
Beta glucans help regulate the immune system, making it more efficient. In addition, beta glucans stimulate white blood cells (lymphocytes) that bind to tumors or viruses and release chemicals to destroy it.
Beta Glucan has been approved in Japan, Australia, South Korea, and Taiwan as an immunoadjuvant therapy for cancer. In fact, helping with cancer is just the beginning with Beta Glucan. There have thousands of studies showing the product can protect against infections, lower your cholesterol, lower blood sugar, reduce stress, increase your antibody production, heal wounds, help radiation burns, overcome mercury-induced immunosuppression (like Thimerosal, used as a preservative in vaccines), help with diabetes, and even naturally prevent metastasis (or the spreading of your cancer).
Harvard Medical School suggests following general good-health guidelines is the single best step you can take toward keeping your immune system strong and healthy:
• Don't smoke.
• Eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and low in saturated fat.
• Exercise regularly.
• Maintain a healthy weight.
• Control your blood pressure.
• If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.
• Get adequate sleep.
• Take steps to avoid infection, such as washing your hands frequently and cooking meats thoroughly.
• Get regular medical screening tests for people in your age group and risk category.
More Information: Building the Immune System
Your diet plays a role in a healthy immune system. The top vitamins your immune system needs to perform include:
• Vitamin C — helps to repair and regenerate tissues and aids in the absorption of iron
• Vitamin E — a powerful antioxidant that helps your body fight off infection
• Vitamin B6 — supports adrenal function and is necessary for key metabolic processes
• Vitamin A — aids immune function and helps provide a barrier against infections
• Vitamin D — modulates cell growth, promotes neuromuscular and immune function, and reduces inflammation
• Folate — key in development of red blood cells (a lack of Folate can make the body susceptible to cancer)
• Iron — helps your body carry oxygen to cells
• Selenium — slows the body's over-active responses to certain aggressive forms of cancer
• Zinc — slows the immune response and control inflammation in your body
Sources: American Cancer Society, National Cancer Institute, Cancer Research Society