Ovarian Cancer More Deadly Than Breast Cancer by anamaulida


									A few years ago I was asked if I knew what the most deadly gynecologic
cancer was and I answered "Well, breast cancer of course." Oh, how I was
wrong. The American Cancer Society estimates that the average five year
survival rate of breast cancer at any stage to actually be 89 percent.
While no cancer is good that's a pretty good rate. The correct answer to
the question is ovarian cancer, and its five year survival rate
(estimated by the American cancer society) is only 46 percent. We need to
find out why this cancer is so deadly.Cancer is a dangerous and
mysterious thing to people that don't know much about it. Well, everyone
is made up of cells, cells are what make up tissue and tissue is what
makes up our organs. Normally when a cell gets old and tired it dies just
like we do and a new cell takes its place. Our body produces these new
cells by growing and dividing healthy cells. Sometimes our body
overproduces cells and this is when tumors (mass of tissue) are formed.
These tumors aren't always cancer; when they are not they are called
benign tumors. When they are cancer they are call malignant; these are
the ones that can be life-threatening. Both types of tumors can be
removed but the cancerous ones are more likely to grow back and only they
also can spread to different parts of your body. When this happens the
cancer cells are breaking away from the original tumor and entering the
blood stream to use it like a highway to travel around your body. When
the cancer cells spread like this it's called metastasis and the cancer
can start to go new tumors. If these cells reach any of your organs and
start to go new tumors and this is when damage can be done.They call it
ovarian cancer because the tumor first starts at the ovaries and is made
up of over productive ovarian cells. The ovaries are part of the women's
reproductive system and are attached to the uterus by the fallopian
tubes. When a malignant tumor starts to grow these areas can also be
affected because of their close proximity to the ovaries. When this tumor
starts to shed cancer cells the cells typically go to the abdomen first
because it's closest to where the reproductive system is located. Then as
I said before the cancerous cells can start to affect your lymph nodes
and enter your blood stream to travel to different organs.Ovarian cancer
is so deadly because it's very hard to detect. Every year more than
14,600 women die from ovarian cancer in the United States. This may not
seem like a lot when you think of all the billion people that live here
but when about 20,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year
that number seems like a lot. So this means that on average 7 out of 10
women will die from this disease and this is all because it is so hard to
detect. In order to detect it you have to know what the symptoms are. The
most common symptoms are pain in the abdomen, pelvis, back or legs
because of where the cancer is located in your body. You can also have a
swollen or bloated abdomen because it can fill up with fluids. You will
also feel very tired all the time and would have some nausea,
indigestion, gas, constipation, or even diarrhea. Some less common
symptoms would be shortness of breath, the urge to urinate often, and
unusual vaginal bleeding. Now these are pretty general symptoms and many
other disease or illnesses can cause them and that's why it's so hard to
detect because ovarian cancer is not typical the very first thing we
think of when we have one or more of these symptoms.Most women would
think if there was a problem that it would show up on their Pap test
which is a once yearly screening that women get from their doctor.
However, a Pap test is only screening for cervical cancer and it cannot
be used to diagnose ovarian cancer. When women do go in to your doctor
for the Pap test he or she should be doing a pelvic exam as well, during
this they will feel your ovaries and organs in close proximity for any
lumps or changes in shape and/or size. More often than not the doctors
will not be able to feel a tumor until they are a substantial size. This
is why we look to other testing as well as the pelvic exam to diagnose
this cancer. If women who have abdominal bloating or pain and would go to
the doctor, they may check your abdomen for fluid buildup. If they some
find some a sample can be taken to test for ovarian cancer cells as part
of the diagnoses. There is also blood testing where your doctor would
check your CA-125 level to see if it is high. The CA-125 is a substance
that is found on the surface of the ovarian cancer cells but also on some
normal tissue, this is why a high level might indicate cancer.
Unfortunately this test cannot be used as the only test for diagnosing
ovarian cancer. It is mainly used for monitoring a woman that has already
been diagnosed and is going through treatment or as an early detection
for the return of cancer after treatment has been completed. The next way
to get diagnosed is by having an ultrasound done. There are two different
types of ultrasounds that can be done; the first is the less invasive of
the two. This is where they take the ultrasound device and press it up
against your abdomen and the sound waves that it produces bounce off the
organs to produce a picture for us to see. By using this they would be
able to get a picture of the ovaries to see if there was a tumor or any
abnormalities. The second type of ultrasound they can do is a
transvaginal ultrasound and it does the same things as the regular one
however this device is inserted into the vagina for a much better view of
the ovaries. The last test to help diagnose this cancer is a biopsy. They
will only do a biopsy if blood test and one of the ultrasounds have
indicated that there may be a tumor. A biopsy is when they take a sample
of tissue or fluid to look for cancer cells. Once they biopsy has been
done a pathologist will look as the sample under a microscope for any
cancer cells. If there are some found then they will be described as
either grade 1, 2, or 3 and this is based off of how abnormal the cells
look.Once the doctors have determined that there are cancer cells present
they have to determine what stage the disease is in before they can start
any treatment. In order to find out what stage the cancer is in the
doctor must know grade the tumor is which we discussed earlier and they
also may need to run a series of more test such as a CT scan or a chest
x-ray. The CT scan is where they would give you some contrast material
and the machine would then take several pictures to get a clearer picture
of your pelvis and abdomen to see any tumors or abdominal fluid. The
chest x-ray is used to see if the cancer has spread to your lungs and if
there is any fluid buildup there as well.There are four stages of ovarian
cancer; the first stage is called stage 1. Stage 1 is where cancer cells
can be found on one or both ovaries or in abdominal fluid. Only 15
percent of the total women diagnosed have stage 1 and they have a 5 year
survival rate of 93.8 percent (statistics). Stage 2 is where the cancer
has spread to other reproductive organs such as the fallopian tubes and
the uterus. It can also be found in abdominal fluid as well as other
tissue in the pelvis area. The 5 year survival rate for stage 2 is 72.8
percent and only 17 percent of women diagnosed have this stage. Stage 3
is where the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes and can be also found
on the outside of the liver. This is the most common stage that women are
diagnosed (62 percent) with only a 28.2 percent survival rate or 5 years
(statistics). The last stage is stage 4 and this is when the cancer can
be found in the lungs or in any other organs. So, at this point it has
traveled out of both the pelvic and abdominal areas. This has the lowest
survival rate of 27.3 percent and the lowest percent of women diagnosed
at 7 percent (statistics).Once the doctor has determined what stage you
are in you can start treatment accordingly. Most women will have surgery
to remove cancer cells and also both ovaries and fallopian tubes, your
uterus, any nearby lymph nodes, as well as the omentum which is a thin
fat pad that covers the intestines. If you only have stage 1 sometimes
the doctors will leave the uterus intact and only take one ovary and
fallopian tube but this depends on your age and whether or not you would
like to become pregnant and have children. If the cancer is one of the
other stages (2, 3 or 4) then they might have to go in further and remove
as much cancer as they possibly can. They can also do chemotherapy as a
form of treatment. This is when "anticancer" drugs are given to kill the
cancerous cell. The drugs can be given by either inserting them into the
vein (IV), intraperitoneal (IP) which is given directly into the abdomen
through a very thin tube, or by mouth via pill form (ovarian cancer 13).
The side effects to the chemotherapy can be hair loss, vomiting, and
diarrhea. This is because the drugs also harm normal cells, so it can
damage your hair cells (hair loss) and the cells that line your digestive
tract (vomiting and diarrhea) but it can also damage your blood cells and
make your body bruise easier and you would be more susceptible to get
infections because your blood cells are what help fight infections off.As
of right now we cannot explain why one women may develop this cancer and
another will not but there are some women that are at higher risk. If you
have any women in your family that has had ovarian cancer, specifically
your mother, daughter, or sister you or a family member are at a higher
risk. But, also if you or any other family members have had uterus,
colon, rectum, or breast cancer you or a family member will be at a
higher risk. Most women that are diagnosed with this disease are over the
age of 55 and have never been pregnant. If you or a family member is at
an increase risk you want to talk to your family member to make sure they
are aware of these risks. Then I would encourage those at risk people to
consult your doctor and see if anything can be done to make sure if you
would so some signs of cancer, it could be detected early.They may
recommend genetic testing to see if you have a certain mutation of the
BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 gene which has been linked to ovarian cancer and breast
cancer. If you go and have this testing done you will have to provide a
detailed family history and also give a blood sample. They will test they
blood for mutations in your DNA, specifically looking at your BRCA 1 and
2 genes. When you get the results back they will let you know if they
found a mutation and if they did you know that you for sure are at an
increase risk. If they don't find a mutation they will still put you into
an at risk category based on your family history. This testing has been
very important in determining the links between certain mutations and
ovarian cancer. The more data we can collect the better off we are on
finding a connection.The most important thing to remember is that this is
the most deadly gynecologic cancer with very nonspecific symptoms, 15,000
women die from this cancer every year. If you or anyone you know are
having any of these symptoms you should talk to them and encourage them
to contact their doctor in hopes of early detection. The earlier the
detection the better chances you or a family member has of not becoming
one of the 15,000.

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