Ovarian Cancer

Even though we know that cancer is a very common disease, we are tempted to say that this is not going to happen to us. We like to think that we are protected and that in our live we will never have to face this cruel situation. Well, is not quite like that because the exact causes of ovarian cancer are unknown, and as a consequence cancer is hard to prevent.
Unfortunately there are no routine test for ovarian cancer and a physical examination, ultrasound, X-rays, biopsy, the CA 125 blood test of the ovary may be needed to detect and diagnose ovarian cancer and determine staging.

In order to understand ovarian cancer it’s good to explain exactly what ovaries are, and what are their functions. The ovaries are part of a woman’s reproductive system and they have the size of an almond. The ovaries release eggs and they make the female hormones estrogen and progesterone.

How does cancer occur? Cells grow and divide to form new cells and when the cells grow old they die and the new ones replace them. Sometimes during this process something goes wrong. The old cells don’t die, and the new cells form when they are not needed. These extra cells can form a mass of tissue called “tumor” . The term “tumor ” is synonymous with neoplasm. Only malignant tumors are life-threatening. It’s difficult to set a diagnostic because most benign tumors of the ovary can have a malignant counterpart. To tell the difference you have to remove them and to put samples under the microscope.

Ovarian cancer can invade organs next to the ovaries, cancer cells can break off into the abdomen and this may lead to new tumors. Also ovarian cancer can spread through the lymphatic or through the bloodstream to organs such liver and lungs.

Because the majority of women in such a situation still want to have children, a procedure has been invented in order to remove only the diseased tissue, and to leave as much reproductive tissue as possible. The “frozen section” is a technique in which before finishing the operation, the tumor removed is analyzed with microscopic techniques. The technique is not guaranteed, so you may need another operation, but if you want to get pregnant you can take the risk.

It’s compulsory that women maintain a routine of pelvic exams because ovarian cancer often has no symptoms, and is caught as an incidental finding in a routine GYN check-up. What makes the difference between losing your fertility or even your life and getting better is detecting the tumor in time.

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