Ovarian, Fallopian & Primary Peritoneal Cancer
What is Ovarian cancer?
Ovarian cancer is a cancer that grows in a woman’s ovaries.Abnormal cells form and reproduce on the surface of the ovary (ovarian epithelial cancers – most common), in the tissue of the ovary (sex cord stromal tumors), or in the egg portion (germ cell tumors) of the ovary.Often, they are benign or non-cancerous growths.If they change and grow out of control, they can become a cancerous growth and will require treatment.
How would I know I have ovarian cancer?
Ovarian cancer is difficult to detect because your ovary lies in your pelvis, where there is a lot of room to grow and expand and the female body is adapted to accommodate child birth.Subtle signs of cancer are often disregarded by women as normal signs of aging.Signs of urinary frequency or urgency or bloating may occur and are nonspecific to cancer.Women also note that their appetite may decrease or they may feel full quickly when eating.Both weight loss and weight gain may be noted. And finally, pelvic or abdominal pain may be present.
How is ovarian cancer diagnosed?
Once your provider has suspicions of cancer, they may order several tests including an ultrasound, blood tests, or even a CT scan.These tests may lead to other tests which may ultimately lead to a biopsy or a surgery for a definitive diagnosis.
What is a stage of a cancer?
Cancer staging is a way in which doctors find out how far the cancer has spread.Staging defines the size, extent and location of the cancer.Stages are designated by Roman numerals I – IV and refer to the location of tumor involvement.Subdivisions A, B, and C define the extent of tumor involvement.
Early Stage cancer are usually designated by Stage I and II. Stage I cancer means that the cancer is limited to the inside of one or both ovaries (stage IA or IB).Or, the cancer cells leaked outside the ovary (ruptured) before or during the surgery (IC1 or IC2).Its also possible that no cancer or rupture occurred but when the ovaries and tubes and uterus were washed with fluid during surgery, that fluid had cancer cells seen under a microscope when viewed by a Pathologist (IC3).
Stage II cancer means the cancer has spread to other pelvic organs like the uterus or fallopian tubes (IIA), bladder or rectum (IIB).
Advanced Stage Cancers are designated as Stage III and Stage IV. These stages often indicate more extensive spread of the cancer which can be more difficult to treat and may have a greater risk of returning once treated. In stage III ovarian cancer, the cancer is in one or both ovaries, and the cancer has either spread beyond the pelvis to the lining of the abdomen or the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes in the back of the abdomen.
Stage IV ovary cancer is the most advanced stage of ovarian cancer.This stage means the cancer has spread to other distant sites beyond the pelvis such as the liver, lungs or other organs.
What about Fallopian Tube and Peritoneal cancers?
These cancers are similar in origin to surface (epithelial) ovarian cancers (the most common type of ovarian cancer) and they are treated with the same types of treatments as ovarian cancers.
How did I get this cancer?
How and why some women get ovarian cancer while others do not is still a subject of ongoing research.While we do not know the exact cause in many cases, there are some risk factors associated with increased risk of developing ovary cancer.They are:
- Older Age
- Never having a baby
- A family history of ovarian cancer, breast cancer or colorectal cancer
- A personal history of breast cancer
- A known genetic mutation (e.g., BRCA1 or BRCA2)
- Risk is reduced in those who used oral birth control pills
What are the Treatments for Ovarian Cancer (Fallopian and peritoneal cancers)?
Most women with ovarian cancer undergo surgery and chemotherapy.While the first step is often surgery, in as many as 1/3 of women with ovarian cancer, chemotherapy is giving prior to surgery.
Some women can be cured with surgery if all of the cancer has been completely removed.Recommendations for treatment after surgery depends upon the stage of the disease.The majority of women with ovarian cancer do need to have chemotherapy.
Chemotherapy – Chemotherapy is a medication used to treat and prevent recurrence of cancer by killing cancer cells.
Source: the information on this page was obtained from two sites: UpToDate medical database, and Cancercenter.com.