GANAPATHI BHAT, AKOLA
Gynaecological cancers in India, like in the west, has witnessed a rapid progress in terms of early diagnosis and management. That is exactly the reason why cancers of the Cervix is seeing a downward trend of late. It all depends on the manifestations of the disease and how quick a woman is able to “feel” the pain. Then there are easy to do, patient-friendly tests which can spot cancers early. However, there are other gynaecological cancers more dangerous, and not-so-easy to recognise, in early stages. Ovarian cancer is one which begs for attention: of both patients and the clinicians in order to be detected at its nascent stage. Numbers are grim: more than 80 per cent of the ovarian cancers escape detection till they have advanced to the third or fourth stage. Symptoms tend to connect them with other common conditions like fibroids. Unfortunately, unlike many other cancers, absence of a robust, time-tested, sensitive and specific investigative tool has prevented early diagnosis resulting in women being diagnosed in advanced stages. Once the disease finds its way out of the ovary into other organs, the picture is dismal. However, the silver lining in the advanced stages is oncologists are not wary of treating these stages aggressively. The tumour marker – Cancer Antigen-125 – is undoubtedly useful but its importance pales in the absence of corroborative findings. Nowadays, a computed tomography scan (CT scan) can clinch a diagnosis along with an elevated level of the tumour marker. Genetic syndromes as a causative factor of ovarian malignancy has rekindled some hope among the researchers by way of studying gene mutations – but that is not all. The elusive search for early spotting device or mechanism for ovarian cancer makes it a tough nut to crack. A dedicated gynaecological cancer department in a medical college can go a long way in early pointing out the disease. September is the ‘ovarian cancer awareness month’. The ‘teal ribbon month’ is significant in infusing awareness about the disease.