What is Ovarian Cancer?
Ovarian cancer is a growth of the abnormal malignant cells that begins in the ovaries. Cancer that spreads to the ovaries but originates at another site is not considered ovarian cancer. Ovarian tumors can be noncancerous or cancerous. Although it is abnormal, cells of benign tumors do not spread to other parts of the body.
Cancerous cancer cells in the ovaries can metastasize in two different ways: directly to other organs in the pelvis and abdomen, which is the most common. Another way is through the blood stream or lymph nodes to other parts of the body.
There are four different types of cancer. The different types are classified according to the type of cell from which they start.
1) Epithelial tumors– around 90 percent of ovarian cancers develop in the epithelium which is the thin layer of tissue that covers the ovaries.
2) Germ Cell Carcinoma Tumors– this type makes up about five percent of ovarian cancer cases and begins in the cells that form eggs.
3) Stromal Carcinoma Tumors– this type also makes up about five percent of ovarian cancer cases. It develops in the connective tissue cells that hold the ovary together and those that produce the female hormones estrogen and progesterone.
4) Small Cell Carcinoma of the Ovary– this type of cancer a very rare, highly malignant tumor that affects mainly young women.
How is ovarian cancer treated?
After the diagnostic tests are done, your cancer care team will recommend 1 or more treatment options. The main treatments for ovarian cancer are:
Often, 2 or more different types of treatments are used.
Consider the options without feeling rushed. If there is anything you don’t understand, ask to have it explained. The choice of treatment depends largely on the type of cancer and the stage of the disease., The exact stage may not be known in patients who did not have surgery as their first treatment. Treatment then is based on other available information.
Other factors that could play a part in choosing the best treatment plan might include your general state of health, whether you plan to have children, and other personal considerations. Age alone isn’t a determining factor since several studies have shown that older women tolerate ovarian cancer treatments well. Be sure you understand all the risks and side effects of the various therapies before making a decision about treatment.