Introduction during the early stages of ovarian cancer,

Introduction Ovaries are the most important aspects to the female reproductive system.  Inside the female reproductive system, the ovaries are located on each side of the uterus.  The inside of the ovaries contain eggs and different hormones like progesterone and estrogen.  Ovarian cancer consists of cells that develop abnormally in, near, or on the outsides of the ovary or ovaries (“National Ovarian Cancer Coalition”, n.d.).  These cells can formally produce tumors that can cause great harm to not only the reproductive system, but to the rest of the body.  Understanding the symptoms, risk factors, how it is diagnosed and how it is treated is an extremely critical topic that women should be knowledgeable about. Symptoms.  The most common symptoms are almost always present in women who have ovarian cancer.  These symptoms seem to almost never go away, which in this case, can be a red flag for pointing out ovarian cancer.  The most common ovarian cancer symptoms include, pelvic or abdominal pain, bloating, difficulty eating, and urinary problems (“Symptoms and Detection”, n.d.).  These symptoms can occur during the early stages of ovarian cancer, however, most women have reported these symptoms during later stages of the developed cancer.  Other very common symptoms of ovarian cancer are also reported, however, these symptoms are hard to correlate to ovarian cancer because they are also symptoms that many women do have that do not have ovarian cancer.  These common female reproductive system symptoms include fatigue, lower back or back pain, constipation and indigestion, and menstrual irregularities (“Symptoms and Detection”, n.d.).   Some forms of ovarian cancer are rarer than others.  An example of this is Granulosa cell tumors (GCT).  These tumors actually present a different set of symptoms that can be present in women with these types of ovarian cancer.  In premenopausal women, the symptoms of GCTs can include an enlarging abdominal mass, period irregularities and an increase in abdominal girth.  In postmenopausal women, the symptoms of GCTs can include breast tenderness, uterine bleeding, vaginal secretions, diagnosis of endometrial hyperplasia, and different symptoms due to an increase in testosterone levels (“Symptoms and Detection”, n.d.). The symptoms associated with ovarian cancer can almost always appear in women who do not have cancer at all.  This is why it can be difficult to pinpoint a lot of symptoms directly to ovarian cancer itself.  A study conducted in four UK hospitals found that the main symptoms that women with ovarian cancer do have are persistent distention rather than fluctuating distension (Bankhead, n.d.).   Risk Factors.  There are many risk factors that play into account regarding ovarian cancer.  Risk factors are anything that can effect or shift the chance of obtaining a certain form of cancer or disease (“What Are the Risk Factors for Ovarian Cancer”, n.d.).  Some common known risk factors associated with ovarian cancer are age, obesity, reproductive history, birth control, fertility drugs and family history. When it comes to age, ovarian cancer is hardly ever found in women under the age of forty years old.  Research has found that most ovarian cancer is found in women who have passed the menopause stage.  Also, many studies have found that obesity can carry a risk for developing ovarian cancer as well.  Oral contraceptive use has shown to produce a lower risk for ovarian cancer in some women.  Unfortunately, the risk factor for developing ovarian cancer when using certain fertility drugs, such as clomiphene citrate, for more than one year can increase the risk for cancer development.  Family history of cancer is a huge risk factor for any type of cancer.  When it comes to ovarian cancer, any type of female reproductive cancer that runs in the family on either side can potentially carry the risk for ovarian cancer because of certain inherited mutated genes such as BRCA1 and/or BRCA2 (“What Are the Risk Factors for Ovarian Cancer”, n.d.).   Diagnose.  An early diagnosis of ovarian cancer can save the lives of many women all over the world.  Unfortunately, researchers have found that there are no early detection techniques for ovarian cancer that work great for all women.  If a woman is aware she is at high risk of ovarian cancer based upon any of the many risk factors that are listed above, she can be monitored for ovarian cancer by a doctor using multiple different types of tests (“Symptoms and Detection”, n.d.).  Certain blood tests that search for proteins, such as CA-125, are used to try and look for signs of ovarian cancer development.  CA-125 is a protein that is almost always present in the blood in high amounts when a cancerous tumor is present.  Researchers have found that more than eighty percent of women with late ovarian cancer carry high amounts of this protein.  Doctors will also use other tests on women who have symptoms of ovarian cancer.  Some of these tests include a complete pelvic exam, CT scan, transvaginal ultrasound and other blood tests.  After performing various tests and screenings for ovarian cancer, the doctor will perform surgery or a biopsy to get a definitive diagnosis of ovarian cancer (“Symptoms and Detection”, n.d.).   Treatment.  There are various treatments for ovarian cancer.  Most of the time, more than one treatment is used in the process of getting rid of the cancer.  The treatments most used to eliminate ovarian cancer are chemotherapy, hormone therapy, surgery, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, and clinical trials (“Treating Ovarian Cancer”, n.d.).  Chemotherapy uses different chemicals in hopes to kill cancerous cells and to prevent them from growing.  In ovarian cancer situations, chemotherapy can be used to control tumor growth and progression.  Radiation therapy is a stronger therapy that uses strong x-rays to kill cancerous cells.  This type of therapy is mostly used when cancer has spread to multiple areas of the body.  If a woman has only ovarian cancer, radiation therapy would most likely not be the course of treatment (“Ovarian Cancer Treatment Options”, n.d.).  Participating in clinical trials is another common treatment option for women with ovarian cancer.  Women who do look into clinical trials as a treatment option often receive medication and treatment therapy that is not available to women outside of the trial (“Ovarian Cancer Treatment Options”, n.d.).   Local Providers.  There are many local providers here in Lincoln, Nebraska that focus on Oncology and treatments of ovarian cancer.  Nebraska Hematology Oncology is one local provider that has an area of focus in ovarian cancer and many other types of cancer as well.  Other hospitals such as Bryan Health and CHI Heath St. Elizabeth have Oncology departments that have treatment options for women with ovarian cancer.  Our close neighbors in Omaha, Nebraska have many Oncology departments in hospitals such as the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) and Nebraska Methodist Hospital.  Other local providers in Lincoln, Nebraska include Southeast Nebraska Cancer Center and Women’s Clinic of Lincoln, P.C..  

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