ABOUT Ovarian Cancer
Ovarian cancer is a type of epithelial ovarian cancer. Epithelial cancers are cancers that form in the layer of cells that covers the surfaces of organs. The ovaries are organs located on either side of a woman's uterus, and they produce eggs or ova (female sex hormones).
Cancer is where cells in the body grow out of control, forming tumours or masses of tissue, these can be identified as lumps on the skin. Symptoms to watch out for include excessive bleeding from abnormal menstrual periods, abdominal pain, or bloating. Cancer does not always have symptoms but if you experience any of these then it's worth getting checked by your doctor as early detection can make all the difference.
What is Extra-Ovarian Primary Peritoneal Carcinoma (EOPPC)?
EOPPC, previously known as primary peritoneal carcinoma, is a rare cancer of the ovary. It is different from ovarian cancer in that primary peritoneal carcinoma develops in the lining of the abdomen. This lining is called the peritoneum.
The word "peritoneum" refers to the membrane that lines the abdominal cavity and covers most of the pelvic organs. A tumour or mass that forms in the peritoneum is called a peritoneal tumour. Primary peritoneal carcinoma can also spread to other organs in your body, just like ovarian cancer can. In other words, if a person gets this cancer, it is almost certain that they will get ovarian cancer too.
If a woman has this cancer it does not mean she has to have surgery. Surgery is generally a last resort for women with advanced cancer because the risk of complications and death is higher. In contrast, chemotherapy may be given to help shrink a tumour so surgeons can remove it. This drug treatment is called adjuvant therapy.
Ovarian Cancer Prevention
Certain things can be done to reduce the risk of getting ovarian cancer, like not using hormonally-altered birth control methods if you are sexually active, staying away from the sun (UV rays), and getting regular Pap smears.
Ovarian cancer is one of six types of female cancer diagnosed in North America every year. It is the most common endometrial cancer. Overall, it accounts for about 10% of all new cancers diagnosed in women each year. The chance a woman will develop ovarian cancer during her life depends on several factors including her racial background and family history.
Ovarian cancer is also a leading cause of death from gynecologic malignancies in the U.S. Ovarian cancer causes 22,000 deaths each year in the U.S. In Canada, there are about 1,500 new cases of ovarian cancer diagnosed each year and it causes 1,000 deaths annually.
In the United States, the risk of developing ovarian cancer is one in 74 or 1% lifetime risk. Caucasian women have a higher risk than African American women. Increased risk is associated with a family history of breast or ovarian cancer. A woman's risk increases with age due to multiple factors including greater exposure to reproductive hormones over time.
Ovarian Cancer Causes and Risk Factors
There are many theories for the cause of ovarian cancer, one popular theory is that it is caused by genetics. If you have a family history of ovarian cancer, your risk may be higher.
The risk factors for ovarian cancer include:
- Age - The risk of developing ovarian cancer increases with age. Most women diagnosed with ovarian cancer are over 50. The risk doubles every decade after age 45 up until age 75 years old when it begins to decline very slowly. Approximately half of all women who develop ovarian cancer are 65 or older.
- Increased number of births - Having more children means that you have a greater lifetime exposure to the hormones produced during pregnancy. Having more than five children may increase the risk of ovarian cancer.
- The increased amount of reproductive hormones - Hormone replacement therapy (HRT), oral contraceptives (OCPs), and other fertility drugs that contain estrogen or progesterone may increase the risk. The risk is higher with high doses for long periods, especially if started before menopause.
- Lifestyle factors - Obesity increases the chance of developing ovarian cancer, particularly in postmenopausal women because body fat produces excess amounts of estrogen. Other lifestyle factors that can increase your risk include diet, lack of exercise, smoking, drinking alcohol, and low intake of fruits and vegetables.
Treatment for Ovarian Cancer
Treatment includes chemotherapy, targeted therapies, radiation therapy, surgery, or a combination of these. Ovarian cancer is usually treated with multimodality therapy which includes chemotherapy followed by surgical removal of cancer. Chemotherapy may be used to shrink the tumour before surgery.
Chemotherapy can cause side effects such as hair loss, nausea, and vomiting, mouth sores, reduction in blood counts that can lower resistance to infection, diarrhea, and fatigue. Your doctor will prescribe medicines to prevent or treat these side effects. If you experience a serious side effect of a drug, tell your health care team immediately. Cancer treatments can also cause infertility.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will it Progress Rapidly?
The answer is unfortunately yes. Ovarian cancer can grow in size and spread to a fatal stage in less than a year. The malignant type of this cancer doesn't even give you 6 months.
Is there a chance where Ovarian Cancer can be cured
The chance of women surviving from ovarian cancer is very low yet attainable. The rates are 2 in 10 women can be cured and enjoy decades of life under treatment.