A common cancer among women is ovarian cancer. Approximately 21,880 women were diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2010 and approximately 13,500 died of ovarian cancer in 2010.
The ovaries are two small organs located in the pelvis on either side of the uterus. The ovaries are responsible for the production of eggs for fertilization and hormones. Ovarian cancer occurs when the cells of the ovary grow out of control and produce one or multiple abnormal growths called tumors.
Women with early ovarian cancer may have stomach or pelvic discomfort, an irregular period, an urge to urinate frequently, bloating of the stomach and constipation. As the disease worsens there may also be shortness of breath, vomiting, and a sensation of fullness, poor appetite and weight loss.
Women from families with a history of breast and/or ovarian cancer should consider genetic testing to determine whether or not they carry a genetic mutation that makes them susceptible to developing these cancers.
Behaviors that make one at risk for ovarian cancer include a diet high in animal fat, never having a baby, first birth after 35, and late start of menopause and early start of menstrual period.
There are no ovarian cancer screening tests. Until a screening test is developed the best thing to do is be aware of body changes and report to your doctor these changes as they develop.
Any abnormal finding on pelvic exam may be an ovarian cancer. If ovarian cancer is suspected then tests are performed to further evaluate the abnormal finding and may include a body scan and blood test.
The definitive finding of ovarian cancer is with surgical exploration. If cancer is present upon opening the abdomen, by a surgeon, then there is the removal of the tumor and the female reproductive organs.
If ovarian cancer is found early then the cure rate is high.
Additional treatment is based upon how advanced the disease is on the body scans and at the time of surgery.
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