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Ovarian Cancer Fact Sheet

From the GYN Cancer Articles List

Ovarian Cancer Fact SheetOvarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer usually starts in epithelial cells on the surface of an ovary. It is the seventh most common cancer among women, and it is the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths among women worldwide. It is difficult to detect early since its symptoms can mimic other pelvic diseases, and the ovaries are not easily accessible for inspection or testing.

Risk Factors and Prevention
A family history of ovarian cancer is the most important risk factor. The risk of OC increases with age. It is particularly likely around the time of menopause. Childlessness is also a factor. Birth control and pregnancy reduce the risk of OC. There is no effective screening test for OC. If you have a family history of OC, you can have a CA-125 blood test to check for the presence of the genetic marker. But the CA-125 test has been known to produce false positives, and it does not necessarily indicate that you have OC, so it is a poor screening method. You can also undergo a transvaginal ultrasound to see if there are any visible masses on your ovaries. For those at high risk of OC, a biopsy is the best way to check if there is any question about the possibility of cancer.

Common symptoms of ovarian cancer include bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, difficulty eating, or feeling full quickly. Other symptoms that often accompany OC include fatigue, indigestion, back pain, pain with intercourse, constipation, and menstrual irregularities. The more of the first set of symptoms a woman has at the same time, the more urgent it is for her to see a doctor to check for OC. The second set of symptoms is less useful in diagnosing OC, except when they occur with multiple occurrences of the first set of symptoms for an extended period of time.

The earlier ovarian cancer is detected, the better the chances of treating it successfully. Unfortunately, most cases of OC are detected at stage 3 or beyond, which means that it has spread to other organs and lymph nodes by the time it is diagnosed. The prognosis is still relatively positive, though, with an aggressive treatment plan.

The three standard treatments for ovarian cancer include surgical removal of cancerous organs and tissue, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Depending on the stage of your cancer, your surgeon may remove one or both ovaries, your uterus and one or both ovaries, or your entire reproductive system. Newer treatments include biologic therapy (a type of immunotherapy) and targeted therapy (uses drugs that find and attack cancer cells without harming normal cells). These are still in clinical trials, in which OC patients—particularly those in later stages—are encouraged to consider participating.

Information complied by staff of HysterSisters.com using data from the Mayo Clinic, NIH, American Cancer Society, and WebMD websites. This content was written by non-medical professionals based on discussions, resources and input from other patients for the purpose of patient-to-patient support.

09-27-2011 - 10:23 PM


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