General Illness Information
Medical Term: Ovarian Carcinoma
Common Name: Ovarian cancer, ovarian tumor
Description: Ovarian cancer is a group of different types of neoplasms that arise in various tissues in the ovaries. The most common type of cancer is one in which the spread of cancer cells occurs along the surface of the ovaries.
- Genetic predisposition. There are genes that increase the likelihood of developing ovarian cancer. According to various sources, family cases of ovarian cancer are fixed in 5-10% of cases.
- These are the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which mutations also contribute to the development of breast cancer. To date, it is possible to conduct molecular genetic analysis to identify mutations in these genes in order to assess the likelihood of pathology;
- Age. The risk of developing malignant diseases increases with age. This also applies to ovarian cancer. The probability of development of pathology increases after the age of 45. Most often this disease occurs after the age of 60-65;
- Hormonal disorders. Changed hormonal background is one of the factors contributing to the development of the oncology process in the ovaries. So, it is noted that women who have given birth are less likely to have ovarian cancer. Moreover, the more pregnancies a woman has, the lower the probability of the appearance of this disease. Pregnancy increases the protective mechanisms of the female body in relation to oncological processes of the reproductive organs. At the same time, infertile women have a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer. Prolonged use of drugs that stimulate ovulation also increases the likelihood of developing ovarian cancer. But oral combined contraceptives reduce the risk of this disease. It is also believed that early menarche and late menopause increase the likelihood of developing an oncological process in the ovaries.
Other, less significant factors contributing to the development of ovarian cancer include:
- irregular sex life;
- excessive consumption of fatty foods with a large number of carcinogens;
- chronic inflammatory diseases of the urogenital system;
- venereal diseases;
- adverse environmental conditions.
The presence of the above factors does not mean that a woman will necessarily have an illness. The factor only increases the likelihood of pathology. The more factors affect the woman’s body, the higher the likelihood of a malignant process in the ovaries.
Prevention of ovarian cancer is possible through regular preventive examinations of women by a gynecologist. The examination data can be refined by ultrasonic tomography. In cases of detection of an ovarian tumor, even benign, it must be immediately removed.
Signs & Symptoms:
Ovarian cancer is a disease that can last for a long period without symptoms. The woman does not suspect of a serious illness, and at this time the cancer progresses, reducing the patient’s chances of a complete cure.
Often ovarian cancer mimics, causing symptoms that are similar to other pathologies. Often the symptoms of ovarian cancer (especially in the initial stages) resemble those in diseases of the digestive tract or bladder. In such cases, even experienced doctors make false diagnoses, and the disease continues to develop.
As a malignant tumor grows, the patient may experience pain in the pelvic region, in the back or in the abdomen. As a rule, the pains are aching or dull. As the size of the tumor begins press on the rectum or bladder, there are associated symptoms, namely, rapid urination or constipation.
In the initial stages in ovarian cancer the development of ascites is possible – the accumulation of fluid in the abdominal space. For this reason, the patient’s stomach significantly increases in size. Also, with cancer of the ovary, pain can occur during sexual intercourse.
Other common symptoms of ovarian cancer:
- severe weakness;
- loss of appetite;
Treatment & Diagnosis:
At the initial stages, ovarian cancer can be complete cured. If a woman seeks medical help at the stages 1-2 of the disease, then the probability of successful cure is 80-90%!
When there are symptoms that indicate possible oncology of the reproductive organs, a woman should consult a gynecologist. The doctor first of all listens to the woman, conducts the examination, palpation, and if there is a suspicion of the disease – prescribes the woman to perform a number of laboratory and instrumental studies.
Diagnosis of ovarian cancer consists in the following activities:
Blood tests. General, biochemical and specific blood tests. In particular, the blood is examined for the presence / absence of cancer markers, and also the hormonal background of the patient is examined;
Ultrasonic examination of pelvic organs. Ultrasound of the small pelvis can detect a pathological focus, its size and localization;
Computer and magnetic resonance imaging. These methods of investigation make it possible to accurately detect the size and localization of a malignant tumor;
Lymphography. If there is a suspicion of ovarian cancer, it is necessary to conduct an examination of the lymph nodes located near the malignant tumor. This study will assess the extent of cancer;
Biopsy and histological examination. To confirm the malignancy / good quality of the tumor under investigation, a biopsy is necessary – taking a small amount of a tumor material. After biopsy, the selected material is sent for histological analysis to identify pathological cells in the sample;
Laparoscopy. If a significant prevalence of ovarian cancer is suspected, a laparoscopic study may be needed to identify malignant lesions in nearby organs.
Other studies. Depending on the doctor’s testimony and the state of health of the patient, experts may conduct other types of research.
Treatment of ovarian cancer, like any other malignant disease, is limited to surgical and / or conservative treatment.
- Surgical treatment of ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer, especially at the initial stages, is treated well. Often ovarian cancer requires extirpation of the uterus, and removal of appendages, fallopian tubes and ovaries. In some cases, it is possible to preserve the childbearing function, if the woman wants it. In a limited number of metastases, it is also possible to perform surgical removal of metastatic foci. After surgical removal of the tumor, chemotherapy courses are conducted to destroy residual malignant cells that could remain in the body after surgery;
- Chemotherapy. This is the main type of conservative treatment of ovarian cancer. The use of cytotoxic drugs in the treatment of ovarian cancer is possible both before the surgery and after it. Before surgery, chemotherapy is performed to reduce the size of the tumor, so it is safer to remove the underlying tumor. After surgery, chemotherapy is performed to kill residual malignant cells;
- Radiation therapy. Currently, radiation therapy for ovarian cancer is rare, because it is considered ineffective in this malignant disease. Radiation therapy is possible with distant metastases, when ovarian cancer is not subject to surgery, and the patient is prescribed palliative treatment, including chemotherapy, radiation therapy and other methods of conservative cancer treatment.
The main rule for the successful treatment of ovarian cancer is early treatment. In the first stages, ovarian cancer is cured almost completely in 90% of cases, and the woman returns to normal life after treatment. If the cancer is detected at the terminal stage, then the probability of cure or remission is not more than 10%.
There is a huge number of the most diverse complications that occur in ovarian cancer. The most common of these are:
- Growth of benign tumors;
- Adhesive processes;
- Twisting the legs of a cancerous tumor;
- Rupture of the walls, which leads to a corpse.