Ovarian Cancer

What is Ovarian Cancer?

Ovarian Cancer is the second most deadly gynecologic cancer in the United States. Ovarian cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the ovaries. The ovary is an “almond-shaped” organ that is located on each side of the uterus. The ovary’s job is to store eggs for reproduction and produce hormones such as estrogen and progesterone. Cancer begins in these cells when abnormal cells grow uncontrollably. To learn more about ovarian cancer and the stages, please click here

What are the symptoms of Ovarian Cancer?

  • Increase in abdominal size 
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Weight loss or weight gain 
  • Abdominal pain
  • Inability to eat normally or full early on 
  • Indigestion
  • Urinary frequency
  • Constipation
  • Back pain
  • Urinary incontinence of recent onset

What are the risk factors for Ovarian Cancer?

How to diagnose Ovarian Cancer?

The way people develop ovarian cancer is poorly understood. Therefore, it is difficult to diagnose in the early stages of the disease. The workup for diagnosing ovarian cancer is an abdominal and pelvic exam, abdominal and pelvic ultrasound, CT or MRI, and a blood test for the tumor marker CA-125. The abdominal and pelvic exam is done first to identify any masses. The abdominal and pelvic ultrasound is done next to further assess the mass. If there are positive findings for ovarian cancer on the blood test, then do a pelvic CT  to evaluate the extent of disease. After the CT, an MRI could be done to prepare for surgery. 

How to treat Ovarian Cancer?

The treatment of ovarian cancer involves the combination of both chemotherapy and surgery. The goal of chemotherapy is to kill the abnormal cancer cells that are uncontrollably dividing. Depending on the stage of cancer and the patient, chemotherapy can be administered by mouth, through your veins or intraperitoneal. Furthermore, operations to remove ovarian cancer is surgery to remove one ovary, both ovaries, both ovaries and the uterus, and surgery for advanced cancer to other organs. If the cancer is too extensive or if you choose not to get treatment, supportive care can be given to relieve and other serious symptoms that you may be experiencing. This is called palliative care. Palliative care can also be given while receiving treatments for ovarian cancer. This type of care is designed to fit you and your family’s needs. 

What are some ways one can prevent Ovarian Cancer? 

  • Younger age at pregnancy and first birth 
  • Breastfeeding
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Provider education
  • Patient education
  • Prophylactic removing both ovaries and the fallopian tubes in high-risk women
  • Having both fallopian tubes tied

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