Ovarian cancer is an aggressive tumor that affects the ovaries. How far the cancer has spread affects a woman’s chance of survival. Most doctors use surgery or chemotherapy to treat ovarian cancer. Drugs and cosmetic products such as fertility drugs, male hormones or talcum powder may increase ovarian cancer risk.
Ovarian cancer starts when cells in the ovaries grow out of control and form tumors. More women die of ovarian cancer than any other type of reproductive cancer.
In 2018, about 22,240 women will get a diagnosis of ovarian cancer. About 14,070 women will die from it.
New cases and deaths from ovarian cancer have declined since 1992.
Catching the cancer early increases chances of survival. Gynecologic oncologists are doctors who specialize in treating ovarian cancer. There are also several treatment options for ovarian cancer.
Some drugs, surgeries and cosmetic products can affect the risk of ovarian cancer.
Symptoms of ovarian cancer vary depending on how serious it is. Many times, ovarian cancer has no symptoms. If there are symptoms, they are mild. This makes ovarian cancer difficult to detect.
Often, early ovarian cancer doesn’t have symptoms. If there are symptoms, the doctor will ask questions and do a physical exam. Then, he or she will run some tests.
There are several types of ovarian cancer. But, there are three main types. The type of cancer determines the treatment. It also affects survival rates.
is a tumor that starts on the outside of the ovary. The majority of ovarian tumors are epithelial.
starts from ovarian cells that make hormones. Doctors can typically diagnose these early.
Germ cell cancer
starts in the egg cells. These tumors are very rare. They occur in younger women and girls.
Doctors use tumor staging to determine how serious ovarian cancer is. The stage depends on how far the cancer has spread or metastasized.
Stages go from 1 to 4. Stage 4 cancer is the most serious. The stage of cancer determines how likely someone will survive five years or more.
Stage 4 ovarian stromal tumors and germ cell tumors have better survival rates than epithelial tumors. Stromal tumors have a 35 percent survival rate. Germ cell tumors have a 69 percent survival rate.
|STAGE||LOCATION AND/OR SIZE OF EPITHELIAL TUMOR||5-YEAR SURVIVAL RATE|
|1||Limited to ovaries||90%|
|1A||One ovary, capsule (outer shell) of ovary intact||94%|
|1B||Both ovaries, capsule of ovary intact||92%|
|1C||Ruptured capsule, tumor on ovary surface, cancer cells in peritoneal (abdominal) fluid||85%|
|2A||Uterus, fallopian tubes||78%|
|2B||Other tissues in pelvis||73%|
|2C||Malignant cells in fluid causing abdominal swelling|
|3||Peritoneal metastasis beyond pelvis||39%|
|3A||Microscopic peritoneal spread||59%|
|3B||Macroscopic peritoneal metastasis less than or equal to 2 cm||52%|
|3C||Peritoneal metastasis greater than 2 cm, lymph node metastasis||39%|
A doctor will determine the treatment plan depending on the stage and type of ovarian cancer. The health of a patient and treatment side effects also affect treatment options.
“Although ovarian cancer is a highly fatal cancer…there is hope. There is a substantial portion of women who live a long time after diagnosis.”
Most of the time, doctors recommend surgery. Oncologists will remove as much of the cancer as they can. Sometimes, the doctor will have to remove other body parts with tumors.
Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells or shrink tumors. But, it can also kill healthy cells. Some ovarian cancer chemotherapy drugs have serious side effects. For example, Taxotere may cause permanent hair loss.
Targeted therapy uses drugs to attack cancer cells and reduce harm to healthy cells. This is a newer treatment. There are several kinds of targeted therapy.
Hormone therapy uses hormones or hormone-blocking drugs to fight cancer. Doctors don’t often use this type of therapy on epithelial ovarian cancers.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to shrink or kill tumors. In ovarian cancer, radiation treats tumors that have spread.
Certain factors can increase or decrease your risk of getting ovarian cancer. The number one risk factor is age, according to the American Cancer Society. There are also certain drugs or products that may increase your ovarian cancer risk.
Please seek the advice of a medical professional before making health care decisions.
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