Cancer of the ovary (ovarian cancer) is the ninth most common cancer in women in the U.S. with almost 22,000 women newly diagnosed each year. Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths in women. In 2013, approximately 14,230 women will die in the United States from ovarian cancer.
Ovarian cancer often goes undetected until it has spread within the pelvis and abdomen. At this late stage, ovarian cancer is difficult to treat, and is often fatal. However, if detected at its earliest stage, the five-year survival rate is more than 93%.
The symptoms of ovarian cancer are often subtle and easily confused with other ailments:
- A swollen or bloated abdomen
- Pelvic or abdominal pain
- Nausea, indigestion, gas, constipation, or diarrhea
- Urinary urgency or frequency
- Unusual vaginal bleeding
- Extreme fatigue
- Shortness of breath
Patients who experience these symptoms are encouraged to consult with their physicians. the doctor may ask about personal and family medical history, as well as run a series of tests. Those test may include:
- Physical exam
- Pelvic exam
- Blood test
There are four stages of ovarian cancer. The doctor will determine your stage of ovarian cancer, and the cancer will be treated differently depending on which stage you are diagnosed with.
The four primary stages are:
Stage I: The cancer is completely contained within the ovary or ovaries
Stage II: The cancer is in one or both of the ovaries and has spread to additional organs located in the pelvis such as the bladder, colon, rectum or uterus.
Stage III: The cancer is in one or both ovaries and has spread to one or both of the following: the lining of the abdomen or the lymph nodes.
Stage IV: The most advanced stage of cancer. The cancer has spread from one or both ovaries to additional organs such as the liver or lungs, or there may be cancer cells in the fluid surrounding the lungs.
Recurrent: The cancer has returned after successful treatment.
Doctors all over the country are conducting clinical trials, and studying new and better ways to prevent, detect, and treat ovarian cancer. For more information on ovarian cancer, please visit Ovarian Cancer Awareness or the Centers for Disease Control website.
Jones & Bartlett is proud to support Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month by offering 35% on our top oncology resources during the month of September: