Ovarian cancer is a type of cancerous growth that occurs in the ovary. While the majority of ovarian cancers occur on the surface of the ovary, it has recently been suggested that some may also begin within the fallopian tubes. Ovarian cancers have also been known to develop from related cells such as egg and supporting cells. Ovarian cancer is a common cancer among women, and is the most lethal of the gynaecological cancers. The risk of developing ovarian cancer increases as a woman ages, and with genetic factors. It is rarely found in women under the age of 40. Past pregnancies have been found to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer.
Like many types of cancer, Ovarian Cancer’s symptoms are non-specific, and may be attributed to a number of different conditions. This makes the early diagnosis of Ovarian Cancer quite difficult. The most commonly expressed symptoms reported by women suffering from Ovarian Cancer are abdominal distension, abdominal or back pain, bloating, the need to urinate, difficulties with bowel movements, vaginal bleeding, pain in the pelvis, and unexplained weight loss.
The survival rate for stage one Ovarian Cancer is 84% at the ten year stage; this decreases to just over 10% in the later stages of Ovarian Cancer. In order to diagnose Ovarian Cancer, a doctor will typically undertake a physical examination, an ultrasound, and will also order blood tests. If these indicate the presence of Ovarian Cancer, surgery will then be performed in order to confirm the diagnosis. This surgery usually involves taking a biopsy, as well as looking for cancer cells in the fluid obtained.
The treatment for Ovarian Cancer is typically chemotherapy as well as surgery, although radiotherapy is sometimes used. Surgery is also effective in situations where the cancerous tumour has remained contained to the ovary; this type of surgery may also be combined with chemotherapy for aggressive tumours. In cases where the tumour has grown large, a surgical process known as “debulking”, where as much of the cancerous tumour as possible is removed, is undertaken. Debulking is commonly combined with chemotherapy.
Because of the difficulty in screening for and detecting ovarian cancer, it tends to be detected later, and therefore has a poor prognosis. For Ovarian Cancer patients in the later stage of the illness, alternative therapies may offer some respite or relief. Many types of alternative therapies focus on improving the immune system in order to help the body prevent the growth of cancer, as well as to ensure that the body is less susceptible to other illness that may occur when the immune system is compromised.