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Key Information About Ovarian Cancer

Updated on June 21, 2019
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Srikanth is passionate about helping people improve their quality of life.

Overview

Ovaries are two reproductive organs that store eggs and produce estrogen and other hormones.

Ovarian cancer is a disease that affects women. In this form of cancer, certain cells in the ovary become abnormal and multiply uncontrollably to form a tumor.

A woman's risk of getting ovarian cancer during her lifetime is about 1 in 78. Her lifetime chance of dying from this deadly disease is about 1 in 108.

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons | Source

Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death from gynaecological malignancy. The incidence is high in the Western world.

Types

 
Epithelial tumors
Stromal tumors
Germ cell tumors

Epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) is the most common and lethal ovarian cancer.

— Francis Rodier, a researcher at the Universite de Montreal.
Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons | Source

Causes

Women with close relatives who have had ovarian or breast cancer have a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer, compared with other women.

Women who have inherited genetic disorders like Lynch syndrome and Peutz-Jeghers syndrome have a higher risk of developing this relatively rare cancer.

Smoking can increase the risk of certain types of ovarian cancer such as mucinous ovarian cancer.

Women who are over 50 are more likely to develop ovarian cancer than younger women.

Source

Symptoms

Ovarian cancer is often referred to as ‘the silent killer’ because the symptoms are so vague that women are not diagnosed until the disease has progressed to late stages.

Feeling bloated, swollen tummy, discomfort in the stomach, uneasiness in the pelvic area, feeling full quickly while having meals, loss of appetite and needing to empty the bladder more often or more urgently than normal are main symptoms of ovarian cancer.

More than three-fourths are diagnosed when the cancer has advanced, and survival rates are low: Just 47 percent of patients survive five or more years.

Treatment

Early-stage ovarian cancer, in which the disease is confined to the ovary, is more likely to be treated successfully.

Surgery is usually the first step. It is performed to remove a piece of the tumor to see if it is cancer. This procedure is known as biopsy.

Surgery helps "stage" the cancer to see how far it has spread. Once the disease is confirmed, the surgeon will remove as much of the tumor as possible.

"We need to develop more accurate pre-surgery diagnostics.

To detect one cancer, we operate on up to five women – yet this is currently the best option when abnormalities are detected by ultrasound and cancer is suspected.

There is a great need for a simple blood test that could identify women who do not need surgery," said Prof Karin Sundfeldt, University of Gothenburg.

Chemotherapy is the treatment of cancer using chemicals designed to destroy cancer cells or stop them from growing.

Use of bevacizumab as a first-line therapy for ovarian cancer has doubled from 4.1 percent in 2008 to 8.2 percent in 2014, according to preliminary, non–peer-reviewed findings.

"I’m calm and confident everything is going to be okay. I know the road will be tough but will also have a happy ending" said Sara Carbonero, Spanish sports journalist and ovarian cancer patient.

Detecting and treating ovarian cancer at an early stage saves lives and lowers healthcare costs compared with treatment of cancer at a more advanced, incurable stage.

— Anna Jo Smith, MD, MPH, Johns Hopkins Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics.

Prevention

Do not use tobacco products. Adhere to a healthy, balanced diet. Do yoga daily. Manage stress; Heartfulness helps you in this. Avoid exposure to asbestos.

Do you use tobacco products?

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So how did ovarian cancer change me? If anything, going through ovarian cancer helped me to become more social and to listen to my body. I don’t try to push myself like used to-I know my limits and make sure to take the time to relax, get enough sleep, and exercise regularly.

— Lindsay T, ovarian cancer survivor.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2019 Srikanth R

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