Ovarian Cancer

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About Ovarian Cancer 

Cells in the body normally reproduce themselves in an orderly manner. But in cancer the cells start dividing uncontrollably, and do not die the way normal cells do. As the cells produce more cells, a mass or tumor may appear. The tumor can invade surrounding tissue and keep the healthy tissue from doing its normal job. There are two kinds of tumors: * Benign tumors are not life threatening. They do not invade other tissues and when they are removed they very seldom return.  * Malignant tumors are cancerous. These tumors contain cells that divide and grow without order. The cells will invade and take over nearby tissues and can spread (metastasize) to other organs by traveling through the body’s bloodstream and lymphatic system. Ovarian cancer may begin in one or both ovaries.A cancerous or malignant growth that originates in a woman's ovary is called ovarian cancer. Malignant tumors that arise from the surface of the ovary usually grow outward and have an irregular shape, like cauliflower. 

 

The ovaries are two small, solid, almond-sized structures that sit on either side of a woman's uterus. Some of the cells in the ovary produce and store eggs (ova) until they are released into the fallopian tubes and travel to the uterus during the menstrual cycle (ovulation). Other cells in the ovary make the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. 

Survival 

Ovarian cancer is the ninth most common cancer (other than skin cancer) in women. It ranks fifth as the cause of cancer death in women. Ovarian cancer accounts for 3% of all cancers among US women and is the second most common gynecologic cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be about 21,880 new cases of ovarian cancer in the United States in 2010. About 13,850 women will die of the disease. Despite important advances in the treatment of ovarian cancer, it remains the leading cause of gynecologic cancer death in US women. (ACS Cancer Facts & Figures, 2010). 

The good news is that the rate of ovarian cancer has been going down since 1987. During 2001-2006, ovarian cancer incidence declined at a rate of 2.1% per year. 

In more than 50% of cases, ovarian cancer occurs in women over the age of 65; but younger women can also be affected. The incidence dramatically increases with age, reaching its peak in the late 70s. Approximately 70% of women with ovarian cancer have extensive disease at the time of diagnosis. 

Survival varies by age; women younger than 65 are about twice as likely to survive 5 years following diagnosis as women 65 and older, 57% and 30% respectively. Overall, about 75% of new ovarian cancer patients survive 1 year after diagnosis; the 5-year relative survival rate for all stages is about 46%. If diagnosed at the localized stage, the 5-year survival rate is 94%; however, only about 19% of all cases are detected at this stage. For women with regional and distant disease, 5-year relative survival rates are 73% and 28% respectively. (ACS Cancer Facts & Figures, 2010). 

Types of Ovarian Tumors 

Abnormal growths can develop in the ovaries. If the growths, or tumors, are benign (noncancerous), they will not spread beyond the ovary and usually do not present a serious problem. If the tumors are malignant (cancerous), they can spread to other parts of the body (metastasize) and can become life threatening. 

Ovarian cancers can grow from any of the cells that make up the ovary. There are three main forms of ovarian cancer: epithelial (cells that line the ovary’s surfaces), stromal (connective tissue), and germ cell (cells that produce eggs). A sub-type of epithelial cancers called "borderline" ovarian tumors also occurs, but is uncommon. If the tumors are malignant (cancerous), they can metastasize and become life threatening. 

Epithelial ovarian carcinomas 

Epithelial ovarian carcinomas (EOC) begin on the surface of the ovary. EOC is the most common type of...
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