Ovarian Cancer Defined
Ovarian cancer occurs in females and begins in the ovaries, which are located on either side of the uterus.
Types of Ovarian Cancer
There are three types of Ovarian Cancer: Germ Cell Tumors, Epithelial Tumors and Stromal Tumors.
- Germ Cell Tumors: This is a rare type of ovarian cancer that typically occurs in younger women and begins in the egg-producing cells.
- Epithelial Tumors: This is the most common type of ovarian cancer that starts in the layer of tissue that covers the outside of the ovaries.
- Stromal Tumors: These tumors begin in the ovarian tissue that contains the hormone-producing cells.
Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer
Ovarian cancer is often difficult to detect in its early stages. Some symptoms include, but are not limited to:
- Weight loss
- Pelvic discomfort
- Frequent urination
- Constipation or other changes in bowel habits
- Abdominal swelling
- Becoming full quickly when eating
Stages of Ovarian Cancer
The stages of Ovarian Cancer range from Roman Numerals I to IV (1 to 4) to describe the severity of the cancer. Staging cancer assists with determining treatment options and a patient’s prognosis.
- Stage I: The cancer is found in one or both ovaries.
- Stage II: The cancer has spread to parts of the pelvis.
- Stage III: The cancer has spread to the abdomen.
- Stage IV: The cancer has spread outside the abdomen.
Please note that the content contained herein was not prepared by medical professionals and should not be construed as medical advice. Please address all medical questions, concerns, and symptoms with your doctor.
Diagnosing Ovarian Cancer
The best way to ascertain appropriate treatment is through quick diagnosis of the disease. Survival time relies on rapid diagnosis and immediate treatment. There are various forms of tests available to screen for ovarian cancer. They include, but are not limited to:
- Imaging Tests: Various forms of imaging tests like ultrasound and CT scans of the abdomen and pelvis allow doctors to examine the size and shape of your ovaries.
- Blood Tests: Blood tests can detect certain proteins found on the surface of ovarian cancer cells.
- Surgery: Various types of surgery such as gathering of tissue samples and/or abdominal fluid that can then be tested help diagnose ovarian cancer.
Obtaining Treatment for Ovarian Cancer
Determining the right therapies for you or your loved one takes time you do not have. You want the best treatment available, but finding it can seem daunting. Deciding on the best course of action is important. As part of that course, our cancer family advocates can assist you with questions regarding the various issues you may have.
We understand that your time is too valuable to spend hours on research. Therefore, we have compiled a list of cancer centers for your convenience. These centers are designated by the National Cancer Institute as Comprehensive Cancer Centers and are recognized for scientific excellence and extensive resources. This list will provide a good starting point for you to find treatment facilities in your area.
Ovarian Cancer Treatment Options
Once you or your loved one is diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer, researched to determine your course of action is time sensitive. You must quickly learn about this disease from a specialist and your doctor will run tests to learn how extensive the disease is and will designate a cancer stage based upon the test results. At that point, your medical team will discuss treatment options with you.
Ovarian Cancer treatment is dependent on various factors, including:
- Your cancer stage
- Whether or not it has spread out of the ovaries
- Your health and personal preferences
The cancer stage is an important aspect in deciding on the level and type of treatment. This is something that you will want to discuss with your doctors so you have a good understanding of it.
According to the American Cancer Society, surgery has a higher likelihood of long-term benefits in earlier stages, particularly in Stage I. If your Ovarian Cancer has progressed past Stage I or you cannot tolerate an operation, then there are other treatment options such as chemotherapy available. Clinical trials are sometimes an option, too, and should be discussed with your doctor and family.
Regardless of the stage or level of your diagnosis, you should discuss with your doctors alleviating symptoms and pain management as part of your overall care.
There are various options to consider, including:
- Pain-relieving drugs
- Natural remedies
Consult your doctor to determine what is appropriate for your situation.
It is crucial that you understand the goal of your Ovarian Cancer treatment before it begins. First, you want to know whether the goal is to fight cancer or relieve the symptoms. Additionally, you want to be clear on the benefits and risks of the various treatment options. Consider engaging the assistance of a victim’s advocate, whether a family member or third party, to assist you in tracking and recording conversations with your medical team. The best decisions can only be made after careful consideration of your diagnosis, and determining the most appropriate treatment options for your Ovarian Cancer.