Every woman is at risk of developing ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer arises from the cells in and around the ovaries and uterine tubes. It occurs when there are abnormalities in normal ovarian cell growth. New cells grow unnecessarily, and old and damaged cells fail to disintegrate causing a build-up that forms a tumour or growth.
These growths have genetic mutations that cause them to multiply. Ovarian cancer is the most lethal of the female cancers. Most women are diagnosed once the cancer has already spread, making it more difficult to treat. There are often delays in diagnosing the disease, as there is no early detection test, and symptoms are often confused with other, less severe, illnesses. Ovarian cancer is overlooked and underfunded – yet every woman is at risk. The different types of ovarian cancer tumours, are named after the type of cell they come from, the three main cell types that make up the ovary. They are:
Epithelial ovarian cancer
Comes from the surface of the ovary (the epithelium), and is the most common ovarian cancer.
Germ cell ovarian cancer
Comes from the reproductive cells of the ovaries. Germ cell ovarian cancer is rare.
Stromal cells ovarian cancer
Comes from connective tissue cell. Stromal cells ovarian cancer is also very rare.
Small cell carcinoma (SCCO) of the ovary very rare.
Facts that is important to know.
Ovarian cancer is often diagnosed at a late stage. A Pap test (cervical smear test) does NOT detect ovarian cancer. Diagnosing ovarian cancer before it spreads makes it much more treatable. Symptom awareness might lead to quicker diagnosis. Common symptoms include: a. Persistent bloating b. Difficulty eating c. Feeling full quickly d. Pelvic/abdominal pain e. Urinary symptoms.
What’s New in Ovarian Cancer Research?
According to the American Cancer Association (ACA), scientists continue to study the genes responsible for familial ovarian cancer. This research is beginning to yield clues about how these genes normally work and how disrupting their action can lead to cancer. This information eventually is expected to lead to new drugs for preventing and treating familial ovarian cancer. Research in this area has already led to better ways to detect high-risk genes and assess a woman’s ovarian cancer risk. A better understanding of how genetic and hormonal factors (such as oral contraceptive use) interact may also lead to better ways to prevent ovarian cancer. ¹New information about how much BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations increase ovarian cancer risk is helping women make practical decisions about prevention. Studies have shown that uterine tube cancers develop in women with BRCA gene mutations more often than doctors had previously suspected. However, it is important to remember that although doctors can predict the average outcome of a group of many women, it is still impossible to accurately predict the outcome for any individual woman
Being able to find ovarian cancer early could have a great impact on the cure rate. Researchers are testing new ways to screen women for ovarian cancer. One method being tested is looking at the pattern of proteins in the blood (called proteomics) to find ovarian cancer early.
The use of new imaging techniques such as Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI are being evaluated in ovarian cancers. Positron Emission Tomography – Computed Tomography (PET/CT) scans are also being studied to see where they may be best used for ovarian cancer.
For women who have an ovarian tumor, a test called OVA1 can measure the levels of 5 proteins in the blood. The levels of these proteins, when looked at together, are used to determine whether a woman’s tumor should be considered low risk or high risk. If the tumor is labelled “low risk” based on this test, the woman is not likely to have cancer. If the tumor is considered “high risk,” the woman is more likely to have a cancer, and should see a specialist (a gynecologic oncologist). This test is NOT a screening test and it is NOT a test to decide if you should have surgery or not− it is meant for women who have an ovarian tumor where surgery has been decided but have not yet been referred to a gynecologic oncologist (https://www.cancer.org/cancer/ovarian-
There is a great need to make women aware of ovarian cancer especially due to the fact that the cancer is often diagnosed, once the cancer has already spread, making it more difficult to treat. There are also often delays in diagnosing the disease, as there is no early detection test, and symptoms are often confused with other, less severe, illnesses. Ovarian cancer is overlooked and underfunded – yet every woman is at risk