cancer info

Friday, June 8, 2012

Ovarian Cancer

The ovaries

The ovaries are part of a woman's reproductive system. They are in the pelvis. Each ovary is about the size of an almond.
The ovaries make the female hormones -- estrogen and progesterone. They also release eggs. An egg travels from an ovary through a fallopian tube to the womb (uterus).
When a woman goes through her "change of life" (menopause), her ovaries stop releasing eggs and make far lower levels of hormones.

What is cancer ?

Cancer is a class of diseases characterized by out-of-control cell growth. There are over 100 different types of cancer that occur in various parts of the body - each is classified by the type of cell that is initially affected.

Usually our cells divide (multiply, form new ones) only when old and dying ones need to be replaced. However, the controls that regulate when a cell divides as well as when a cell should die sometimes become faulty. This may result in cells not dying when they should, while additional cells are still being added - an uncontrolled accumulation of cells. Eventually a mass of cells is formed - a tumor.

Types of Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer is not a single disease. There are actually more than 30 types and subtypes of ovarian malignancies, each with its own histopathologic (diseased tissue) appearance and biologic behavior. Because of this, most experts group ovarian cancers within three major categories, according to the kind of cells from which they were formed:
  1. epithelial tumors arise from cells that line or cover the ovaries;
  2. germ cell tumors originate from cells that are destined to form eggs within the ovaries; and
  3. sex cord-stromll cell tumors begin in the connective cells that hold the ovaries together and produce female hormones.
The most common signs and symptoms
of ovarian cancer are:
  • Bloating- clothes may no longer fit, this is beyond monthly water retention
  • Feeling full after eating a small amount of food
  • Fatigue and tiredness- a general feeling of malaise
  • Low back pain
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain or discomfort
  • Vague, but persistent gastrointestinal upsets such as gas, nausea and indigestion
  • Frequency and/or urgency of urination without having an urinary tract infection
  • Unexplained changes in bowel habits;
  • Unexplained weight gain or weight loss, particularly weight gain in the abdominal region
  • Pelvic and/or abdominal swelling, bloating, and/or feeling of fullness

  • Pain during intercourse
  • Abnormal postmenopausal bleeding (this symptom is rare).

Ovarian Cancer Treatment

There are three main forms Ovarian of treatment for ovarian cancer:
  • Surgery to remove cancerous tissue.
  • Chemotherapy to destroy cancer cells using strong anti-cancer drugs.
  • Radiotherapy to destroy cancer cells by high-energy radiation exposure.


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