Ovarian Cancer: Johns Hopkins Symptoms and Remedies
Ovarian Cancer: Symptoms and Remedies
Ovarian cancer occurs when cancer cells form malignant tumors in one or both ovaries. With about 23,000 new cases diagnosed each year, ovarian cancer is the seventh most common type of cancer in women. Although the overall incidence is relatively low, the death rate from ovarian cancer is very high. It is the most deadly of all gynecologic cancers and the fourth most common cause of cancer-related death in women. The reason for the low survival rate is that ovarian cancer usually produces no noticeable symptoms in its early stages, and there is currently no simple test to screen for it. Consequently, the disease is usually not diagnosed until symptoms appear and the cancer has spread. Occasionally, the disease is first suspected during a routine pelvic examination. Prognosis varies depending on the type and the stage of the disease, but the overall five- year survival rate is between 30 and 40 percent. It is therefore important to keep up with regular pelvic examinations; diagnosis and treatment of ovarian cancer in the earliest stage yields nearly a 90 percent five-year survival rate. Owing to recent advances in treatment, the survival rate has improved even among women with late- stage disease, and some types of ovarian cancers can now be cured.
- In early stages there are usually no symptoms.
- Vague abdominal discomfort, indigestion, or other mild gastrointestinal problems.
- Abdominal swelling or bloating.
- Pelvic fullness or pressure.
- Urinary frequency.
- Unexplained vaginal bleeding or abnormal menstrual
- The cause of ovarian cancer is unknown. Postmenopausal women, women who have not had children, and women with a family history of ovarian, endometrial, or breast cancer are at increased risk of developing ovarian cancer; those who have used oral contraceptives are at decreased risk.
- There are no known ways to prevent ovarian cancer. Scheduling regular pelvic examinations, however, may help to detect ovarian cancer at an earlier, more treatable stage.
- Patient history and physical examination are needed.
- Abdominal ultrasound or CT (computed tomography) scans are used to locate tumors. However, the diagnosis of ovarian cancer can only be made by obtaining a tissue sample for microscopic examination (biopsy), most likely during surgery.
- When cancer is strongly suspected, surgery (known as exploratory laparotomy) is performed to confirm the diagnosis and determine the extent of the disease (staging) in order to plan the future course of treatment. Tumors found during this procedure are removed, if possible, and examined by a pathologist.
- Most often, both ovaries are surgically removed. In addition, the fallopian tubes, uterus, neighboring lymph glands, or any other involved tissues may be removed as well (radical hysterectomy).
- Surgery is typically followed by chemotherapy or radiation treatment to shrink or eliminate any remaining cancer sites.
- Follow-up "second- look" surgery may be scheduled at some point during the course of therapy to evaluate the efficacy of treatment and to remove any new malignancies (although the value of secondlook surgery is controversial).
- If you experience any of the symptoms of ovarian cancer, see a doctor immediately.
For more information on Ovarian Cancer click on this link -- Johns Hopkins Health Alerts: Healthy Living
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