Ovarian Cancer – A Fearful Diagnosis!
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INTRODUCTION: About 15,280 women die every year in the US from ovarian cancer. Despite this, the 5-year survival rate for the disease has improved greatly in the last 30 years. The prognosis of ovarian cancer is closely tied to the stage at diagnosis. There is no approved screening method available at present for ovarian cancer.
The Mayo Clinic has one of the largest ovarian cancer practices in the United States, treating more than 1,200 patients in 2006 who had a principal or secondary diagnosis of ovarian cancer. Mayo Clinic uses a wide variety of imaging techniques to detect ovarian cancer, including PET scans, CT scans and MRIs.
WOMEN: Ovarian cancer is the 7th most common cancer in women in the US, with over 25,000 women newly diagnosed per annum with this disease. It is the 5th leading cause of cancer deaths in women and often does not result in symptoms until the cancer has metatasized extensively. Only about 20 percent of women are diagnosed early, when the disease may still be curable. Cancer of the ovaries usually happens in women past 50 years of age, but it can also affect younger women. About 90% of women who get the disease are older than 40 years of age, with the largest number being aged 55 years or older.
RISK: All women are at risk for ovarian cancer, but older women are more likely to get the disease than younger women. The precise cause of ovarian cancer is unknown, but several risk and contributing factors have been identified. Women who have been pregnant have a 50% decreased risk for developing ovarian cancer compared to women who have not. Oral contraceptive use decreases the risk of ovarian cancer. These factors support the theory that risk for ovarian cancer is related to ovulation and that conditions that suppress this ovulatory cycle play a protective role.
Genetic factors and Family history play an important role in the risk of developing ovarian cancer also. A history of breast cancer increases a woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer. The lifetime risk for developing ovarian cancer is 1%. This compares to a 4-5% risk when 1 first-degree family member is affected, rising to 7% when 2 relatives are affected.
DISEASE: The beginning stages of the disease causes minimal, nonspecific, or no symptoms. The disease is uncommon in women younger than 40 years of age, after which the incidence increases. Based on the surgical staging, females are classified as having limited disease (stage I and II) or advanced disease (stage III and IV). Women with limited disease are classified as having low or high risk for recurrence as follows: Low risk for recurrence includes the following; Grade 1 or 2 disease, No tumor on external surface of the ovary, Negative peritoneal cytology, No ascites, Tumor growth limited to the ovaries.
High risk for recurrence includes, Grade 3 disease, Preoperative rupture of the capsule, Tumor on the external surface of the ovary, Positive peritoneal cytology, Ascites Tumor growth outside of the ovary, Clear cell tumors, Surgical stage II for postoperative treatment. chemo drugs are indicated in all patients with ovarian cancer except those persons with surgical-pathological stage I disease with low-risk characteristics.
SYMPTOMS: may include Heavy a feeling in the pelvic area, Pain in lower abdomen, Bleeding from the vagina, Loss or gain in weight, Abnormal periods, Unexplained Pain in the back that gets worse, Gas, Nausea, Vomiting, or Diminished appetite. Symptoms may be caused by something other than cancer, but the only way to be sure is to see visit doctor, nurse, or other health care professional.
Traditionally, it was believed that ovarian cancer does not produce any characteristic symptoms until the tumor has metatasized, and that early signs of cancer of the ovaries were not recognizable. However, in June 2007, the American Cancer Society, along with other medical societies including the Gynecologic Cancer Foundation and the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists, released a consensus statement about possible early symptoms of cancer of the ovaries. This statement was based on research indicating that some of the early symptoms of cancer of the ovaries can, in fact, be recognized.
TREATMENT: Treatment is usually surgery followed by treatment with chemotherapy drugs. There are also many combinations of these treatment methods and it is often worthwhile to get a second opinion about treatment before entering into a specific program. The greater the knowledge you have, the easier it is to make decisions about your personal treatment plan. Arlene Dunlop is a breast and ovarian cancer survivor whose treatments have kept her well and out enjoying life.
Conclusion: Ovarian cancer actually represents a group of different tumors that arise from diverse kinds of tissue contained inside the ovary. Cancer of the ovaries can invade, shed, or spread to nearby organs. A malignant ovarian tumor can grow and invade organs next to the ovaries, such as the fallopian tubes and uterus. Ovarian cancer frequently produces signs and symptoms, so it is necessary for a woman to pay attention to her body and know what is normal for it.
Cancer of the ovaries most frequently appears in women who are more than 60 (about 50% of patients are over age 65), although it may occur in younger women who have a family history of the disease. Ovarian cancer is the most common reason for cancer death from gynecologic tumors in the United States. Cancer of the ovaries is diagnosed in about 23,000 women in the US each year. Ovarian cancer is a frightening diagnosis, but coming to it with knowledge and information helps a great deal. The earlier it is found and treated, the better your chances are for recovery.