Ovarian Cancer

Cancer of a woman's ovaries

By Triston Brewer, Medical Research EditorLast modified: September 16, 2011

Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian Cancer Treatments

What is Ovarian Cancer?

Ovarian cancer occurs when abnormal cells grow in one or both of a woman's ovaries. The most common form of ovarian cancer is called epithelial ovarian cancer. It is the 7th most common cancer among women in the United States, affecting women primarily between the ages of 40 and 65 years of age. Although cured if detected early on, ovarian cancer is referred to among physicians as the silent killer because of its difficulty to detect.

Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer

The difficulty in detecting ovarian cancer at an early stage makes it one of the deadliest forms of cancer. Symptoms are many and varying, but the most common include menstrual changes, constipation, pain during sex, back pain, upset stomach, ongoing and unexplained fatigue, weight gain or loss, and sudden changes in bowel movements. A combination of one or all of these symptoms can also be symptoms for other diseases that affect the body, so consulting your health care physician as early as possible is advised.

Risk Factors of Ovarian Cancer

If you have a family history of breast, colon, or ovarian cancer, your risks are 10% to 15% greater of developing the disease. After menopause is when the majority of ovarian cancer cases are detected, with the majority of cases being diagnosed in women age 65 and up. Obese women are also at greater risk than women of normal weight. Furthermore, women who have not had children or who have used fertility drugs stand an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer then women who have gone through childbirth, women who have breastfed, and women who use or have used contraceptives.

Stages of Ovarian Cancer

There are four stages of ovarian cancer and each stage has several subcategories, so it is advisable to consult with your physician to better understand your classification and staging. Stage I is characterized as ovarian cancer being detected in one or both of the ovaries. Stage II means that the cancer has spread to the pelvis, possibly the uterus or the fallopian tubes. Stage III affects the lining of the abdomen or the lymph nodes within the abdomen. Stage IV indicates that the cancer has spread beyond the abdomen and is the most critical stage for ovarian cancer.

Diagnoses of Ovarian Cancer

Early diagnosis significantly lowers the likelihood of fatality from ovarian cancer, and there are several methods available for testing. A pelvic exam can detect baseline conditions, although it is not shown to reveal early forms of the disease. As a precaution among women who exhibit a greater likelihood of developing ovarian cancer, a transvaginal sonography  is an imaging technique which uses an ultrasound instrument which is placed inside the vagina. this method also has limited capabilities of detecting cancer in its early stages. The CA-125 test is a blood test measuring the levels of CA-125 in the body, which is a blood-borne protein produced by ovarian cancer cells. As this blood test may show positive results in the presence of non-cancerous cells, it also has limited capability for detecting early stage ovarian cancer.

Treatment of Ovarian Cancer

is the most common form of treatment for women suffering from ovarian cancer. It involves the use of medicines to stop or slow down the growth of cancerous cells, interfering with the cells' ability to reproduce themselves. The drugs are typically inserted into the body through a vein, but some medicines are taken orally. Newer, alternative forms of treatment are chemotherapy directly into the abdominal cavity. Additionally, your health care provider may order a CT scan, X-ray or biopsy to confirm the presence of the disease in the body.

Cost of Ovarian Cancer Treatment

The cost of ovarian cancer treatment varies widely, with factors such the stage of the disease, location of the patient, treatment methods, and insurance co-payments taken into consideration. To find out prices for ovarian cancer treatment in your area, contact a physician in our guide near you.

Find an Oncologist who specializes in Ovarian Cancer Treatments in your area.

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