Ovarian cancer is a life-threatening disease that can be difficult to detect in the early stages and is often mistaken for other illnesses. The fifth leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women, ovarian cancer claims thousands of lives every year. Early detection and treatment are crucial in improving survival rates for women diagnosed with the illness. Over ninety percent of all cases of ovarian cancer are classified as epithelial ovarian cancers; this indicates that they originate on the surface of the ovary, rather than forming inside the reproductive organs.
Not all women experience symptoms of epithelial ovarian cancer during the early stages; those who do typically report bloating, abdominal pain and urinary tract problems as their main symptoms. The cause of these general symptoms can easily be misidentified, allowing the cancer to progress unchecked if not handled promptly. Ovarian cancers tend to grow quickly and can cause shortness of breath, inability to consume food normally due to a constricted space in the abdomen, pain or discomfort during sex and diarrhea or other intestinal tract disorders as a result of the displacement of organs by the growing tumors.
Genetics plays a large part in determining who will contract epithelial ovarian cancer; there appears to be a strong correlation between certain genetic mutations of the chromosome chains that also determine susceptibility for breast cancer. About ten percent of all ovarian cancers are attributed to irregularities in this genetic marker, making it a good determinant for assessing the likelihood that a particular individual will contract epithelial ovarian cancer at some point during her lifetime. Estrogen replacement treatments may also put women at higher risk. Recent studies are inconclusive on the effects of alcohol, but show a definite correlation between drinking two or more glasses of milk per day and increased risk of ovarian cancer.
While the exact mechanism or triggering factors for epithelial ovarian cancer are not known, research studies suggest a link between certain conditions and the development of ovarian cancer at some stage during the woman’s life. Multiple pregnancies seem to offer some protection against ovarian cancer, while childless women are often at significantly higher risk. Women who have their first child at an early age or conceive and deliver later in life also enjoy added protection. Consistent use of oral contraceptives, colloquially referred to as The Pill, also provides some protection.
Typically, treatment options focus on removing or shrinking the cancerous areas through surgery. These methods may require the complete removal of the affected ovary or ovaries. Pharmaceutical treatments to include chemotherapy are also used to manage the disease. The prognosis for patients is quite favorable when the disease is caught in the early stages. However, as the cancer progresses the chances for patient survival decrease dramatically.
A recent study published in 2007 and available through the National Institute of Health indicates that Moringa oleifera supplements may serve a valuable purpose in combating epithelial ovarian cancer cells while minimizing the negative effects commonly experienced by patients undergoing other types of chemical treatments for the disease. Moringa leaves and roots contain significant quantities of substances known as isothiocyanates and glucosinolates, both of which show promise in fighting ovarian cancer in the laboratory. Both of these chemical compounds are capable of causing apoptosis in cancer cells, a process that induces the natural death of these cells before they can reproduce themselves inside the body. Additionally, moringa supplements may help to level out hormonal disturbances that are sometimes linked to increased risk of ovarian cancer, making these supplements a solid choice for women who may be predisposed to develop ovarian cancer due to genetic or environmental factors. While testing is still required to ascertain the extent to which moringa extracts and supplements can be used in the treatment of this deadly disease, the moringa plant may offer new hope and increased protection for women against epithelial ovarian cancer.