Ovarian cancer affects many women worldwide. It is a type of cancer that affects the different parts of the ovary. Majority of them often arise from the epithelium or outer lining of the ovary. The ovary is the female reproductive organ that produces egg cells. They are located on each side of the body near the uterus and the pelvis. The ovaries also produce hormones such as estrogen and progesterone; these hormones function to regulate the the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and control the development of female characteristics. Ovarian cancer can spread to other parts of the body and can cause many complications.
There are three main types of ovarian cancers. The most common type of ovarian cancer is epithelial ovarian cancer. Much less common forms are germ cell cancer and stromal cancers. Epithelial ovarian cancers are derived from the cells of the surface of the ovary; it occurs mainly in adults. Germ cell ovarian cancer is derived from egg producing cells of the ovaries; this type of ovarian cancer commonly affects children and teenage girls. Stromal ovarian cancers are also called sex cord stromal tumours and often develop from cells between the ovaries. Ovarian cancers can also be due to metastatic cancers from other parts of the body.
Ovarian cancer can present with symptoms which may be vague at the earlier stages of the disease. Earlier signs and symptoms may include pain in the pelvis, pain on the lower side of the body, pain in the lower stomach, back pain, indigestion or heartburn, feeling full rapidly when eating, more frequent and urgent urination, pain during sexual intercourse and changes in bowel habits such as constipation. Later stages of ovarian cancer can bring about signs and symptoms such as nausea, weight loss, breathlessness, fatigue and loss of appetite.
There are many risk factors that may lead to the development of ovarian cancer. First of all, ovarian cancers are inherited; it may result from an inherited gene mutation. This means that if you have close relatives who have ovarian cancer as well as other cancers such as colon cancer, prostate cancer or uterine cancer, you may be at high risk for ovarian cancer. People who are predisposed to these types of cancers carry the BRCA1 and/or BRCA2 genes.
Another risk factor is age. Majority of women who acquire ovarian cancers are over 65 years of age. Other risk factors for ovarian cancer include nulliparity (no pregnancies), early menstruation, late menopause, and infertility treatments. Women who had breast cancer before are also at high risk for ovarian cancers. Other women who are of risk include those who had HRT (Hormone replacement therapy), those who consume foods high in acrylamide, those who are overweight or obese, those who had previous endometriosis and those who do shift work.
Ovarian Cancer Chemotherapy
According to a new analysis made by researchers from Fox Chase Cancer Center, the use of chemotherapy before surgery to remove ovarian cancer has increased dramatically in recent decades, particularly among certain patients. According to their study, only 8.94% received chemotherapy before ovarian cancer surgery in 1998; by 2011, that figure had increased to 26.72%. They also found out that patients who did not receive chemotherapy before surgery tended to live longer following surgery to remove their tumor — half were alive 41 months later, while median survival for those who had neoadjuvant chemotherapy was closer to 31 months.
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