One out of every seventy-three women will develop ovarian cancer in their lifetime. It has become the fifth most common cancer found in women. Each year, approximately 20,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with ovarian cancer, with 14,000 dying from the disease, most of whom are over the age of sixty. Ovarian cancer begins in the ovaries and fallopian tubes, but without detection and treatment, can spread to other organs in the pelvis and lower abdomen. If found in the early stages, ovarian cancer can be treated with surgery and chemotherapy, which improves the health and life expectancy of the patient.
Types Of Ovarian Cancer
The different types of ovarian cancer are classified by the type of cell they originated from. The most common tumor is the epithelial tumor, which accounts for approximately ninety percent of all ovarian cancers. The surface epithelium is the cells that make up the outer lining of the ovaries. Stromal cell tumors account for seven percent of ovarian tumors, beginning in the stromal cell, which are the cells that produce and release hormones. The last of these common cancerous tumors start in the germ cells – the cells that make or form eggs. Other less common types of ovarian cancer include; ovarian sarcoma, Krukenberg tumors, and ovarian cysts.
Stages Of Ovarian Cancer
The stages of ovarian cancer determine how widespread the disease is within the body. During stage one the cancer is only within the ovaries or fallopian tubes and has not yet spread to other organs or tissues. Stage two ovarian cancer is when the cancer cells have spread from the ovaries or fallopian tubes to other organs within the pelvis, but has not yet spread to lymph nodes. In stage three, cancer has spread beyond the pelvis to the lining of the abdomen and lymph nodes in the back of the abdomen. Stage four is the most advanced stage of the disease. During stage four, cancerous cells have spread to the inside of the spleen, liver, lungs, or other organs within the inner abdomen and pelvis.
Important Signs And Symptoms
There are some vital signs to beware of if there is any concern about ovarian cancer. Pain can come in many forms with ovarian cancer, including lower back pain, discomfort or pain in the pelvic area and abdomen, and pain during sexual activity. Another symptom to look out for is abnormal vaginal bleeding. Other symptoms may not seem as urgent or severe, but can still be indicators of ovarian cancer; they include low energy, abdominal bloating or swelling, indigestion, nausea, changes in bowel movements, urgent or frequent urination, unexplainable weight loss and loss of appetite or feeling full quickly after eating. Some of the symptoms of ovarian cancer may be confused with less severe conditions. If the symptoms persist for more than a few weeks, it is important to consult a doctor.
There are many ways to determine if an individual has ovarian cancer, or not. First, if any of the aforementioned signs and symptoms persist for a few weeks, consult a doctor immediately for an examination and further testing. Standard tests to look for ovarian cancer include blood tests, genetic counseling and testing, and imaging tests, ultrasound, CT scans, MRI scans and x-rays. Image tests can determine whether or not there is a mass, however, cannot guarantee that it is cancerous. Still, these tests can better inform the doctor whether or not ovarian cancer has spread to other tissues and organs.
Causes And Risk Factors
No exact causes have been found or connected to ovarian cancers; however, some risk factors may play a role in susceptibility to the disease. Women over the age of fifty have a higher chance of developing ovarian cancer, and it has been reported that approximately fifty percent of ovarian cancers are diagnosed in women over sixty. Another risk factor is if the patient has a family history of ovarian cancer, breast cancer or colon cancer as they can all increase the odds of getting ovarian cancer. Women who have never given birth, women who began menstruating before twelve years old or reached menopause after fifty are both at higher risk of developing ovarian cancer. Other risk factors include smoking, obesity, use of intrauterine devices and polycystic ovary syndrome.
Treatment And Prevention
For some women who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer at an early stage, surgery is the only treatment that is needed. However, there are many ways to treat ovarian cancer, the best treatment depends on each case, respectively. Treatment depends on where the cancer is located, what stage it is, the type of cancer and the general health of the patient. The primary treatments for ovarian cancers are chemotherapy and surgery. Most patients diagnosed with ovarian cancer will need to undergo a combination of surgery and chemotherapy, sometimes a few chemotherapy treatments, before and after the surgery.