Understanding Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian Cancer

MOST COMMON CAUSE OF DEATH

Ovarian cancer is that type of cancer, which originates from the ovaries, the egg-producing reproductive organ in women (Pubmed Health, 2013). It is the fifth most common type among women (Pubmed Health). The most common sub-type is epithelial ovarian cancer among all cancer-related deaths (Jayson et al., 2014). It occurs frequently among postmenopausal women who first suffer abdominal pain and distension (Jayson et al.). Recent official statistics reveal that 12.3 per 100,000 women every year develop it and 7.9 of this population die every year (SEER, 2012). There are approximately 188,867 women suffering from this type of cancer in the United States alone an as of 2011. Health experts estimate that about 1.3% of the total population will be diagnosed with the disease at some time in their lives (SEER).

Body

Risks

The cause of ovarian cancer remains unknown, although risks have been recognized (PubMed Health, 2013; Jayson et al., 2014). The risk appears higher in women with fewer children, who give birth later in life, who have had breast cancer or with a history of either cancer type because of the defect in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, who undergo estrogen replacement for 5 or more years and those who are 55 years old or older (Pubmed Health; Jayson; Cunningham et al., 2014).

Signs and Symptoms

These are often vague and attributed to other causes or conditions (Pubmed Health, 2013). It has often advanced by the time it is diagnosed. Doctors, therefore, advise women to get a check-up when they notice certain symptoms occurring on a daily basis and repeating longer than a few weeks. These include bloating or swollen belly, feeling full easily, pain or heaviness in the lower abdominal area, abnormal menstrual cycle, digestive disorders, unusual back pain, vaginal bleeding in-between menstrual periods, and an increase or decrease in weight. Doctors also warn women about excessive growth of dark or coarse hair, more frequent or urgent urination (Pubmed Health).

Diagnosis

A woman with advanced ovarian cancer will hae a swollen abdomen, usually caused by a condition of too much fluid called ascites (Pubmed Health, 2013,; Jayson et al., 2014). A pelvic examination will lead to an ovarian or abdominal mass or tumor. Her symptoms may prompt the use of a CA-125 blood test. It is also used to measure the progress of treatment when she has already been diagnosed with the disease (Pubmed Health, Jayson et al.).

The doctor or oncologist may also opt to conduct a complete blood count and blood chemistry, a pregnancy test for serum HCG, a CT scan or MRI of the patient's pelvis or abdomen, or an ultrasound of her pelvis (Pubmed Health, 2013; Jayson et al., 2014). The oncologist may also opt to perform a pelvic laparoscopy or exploratory laparotomy, which is a surgical procedure. This is to determine the cause of the symptoms. A biopsy is routinely done to reach a diagnosis. Unfortunately, no tests are conducted to screen or diagnose for this disease in early stages. No standard screening or tests are advised at the early stages (Pubmed Health, Jayson et al.).

Treatment

Surgery is the standard approach for ovarian cancer in all stages (Pubmed Health, 2014: Jayson et al., 2014; PDQ, 2014). It removes both the ovaries and the fallopian tubes, the uterus and other parts in the pelvis. Chemotherapy is also often performed after surgery to manage remaining malignancy or when there is a relapse. In the United States, radiation is seldom used in treating this disease. Patients are given specific instructions on check-ups and succeeding tests (Pubmed Health, Jayson et al., PDQ).

According to the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics, women with ovarian cancer Stageā€¦