Ovarian Cancer Essay

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Ovarian Cancer

Lynette Valentin

Rasmussen College L’O’L

Author Note

This research is being submitted on August 17, 2013 Maureen Fonts

G124/ENC1101 Section 25 English Composition - 2013 Summer Quarter

Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer is the deadliest gynecological cancer affecting women worldwide. It is the fourth most common cancer death among women in the United Kingdom and the fifth most common cancer death among women here in the United States (CDC, 2012) It has a poor prognosis of five-year survival rates of 40 percent (Lanceley, Fitzgerald & Jones, 2011) and though early detection is difficult, knowing what symptoms to watch for is crucial. There are various tests and examinations that may increase the odds of early detection but due to the lack of symptoms or minimal, non-specific symptoms, the disease largely goes undetected.

The female reproductive system is designed to transport the ova to the site of fertilization. The ovaries are small, oval-shaped glands, located on either side of the uterus, that produce eggs (ova) or hormones. During the ovulation phase of a female menstrual cycle, hormones are released that stimulate the release of a mature egg for possible fertilization. Other hormones are also released to prepare the uterus for possible implantation of a fertilized egg. If the egg is not fertilized, the menstruation period begins. This is the phase of the menstrual cycle where the thickened uterine lining is shed. Though the exact cause of ovarian cancer is unknown, increased hormone levels before and during ovulation may stimulate the growth of abnormal cells. The classification of ovarian cancer is according to the type of cell they originate from.

The three types of ovarian cancer are epithelial tumors, germ cell carcinoma tumors, and stromal carcinoma tumors. Epithelial tumors develop in the tissues that cover the ovaries and account for about ninety percent of malignant ovarian tumors. This form of ovarian cancer generally occurs in postmenopausal women. Germ cell carcinoma tumors can occur in women of any age but are most found in women in their early 20’s. This type of cancer accounts for around five percent of ovarian cancer cases and begins in the egg forming cells; most common types being teratomas, dysgerminomas, and endodermal sinus tumors. Many of these types of tumors are benign and surgically removed. The remaining five percent of ovarian cancer cases are stromal carcinoma tumors. These develop in the connective tissue cells that hold the ovary together and produce estrogen and progesterone. There are two common types; granulosa and sertoli-leydig cell tumors and both types are rare cancers that can occur in both men and women.

Cancer staging describes the severity of the cancer based on the tumor size and whether or not the cancer has spread. The system has evolved and will continue changing as scientist learn more about cancer but currently are categorized as Stage 0, Stage I, Stage II, Stage III, and Stage IV. In Stage I ovarian cancer, cancer is limited to one or both ovaries. In Stage II, the tumor is in one or both ovaries and extends to other pelvic structures. Stage III involves one or both ovaries and the cancer has spread beyond the pelvis to the lining of the abdomen and/or had spread to the lymph nodes. In Stage IV the cancer involves one or both ovaries and has metastasized to the liver or lungs. There is also a system to describe tumor grade and is broken down as follows; Primary Tumor (T), the extent of spread to the lymph nodes (N), and the presence of distant metastasis (M). The TNM system adds a number value to indicate size and degree to which the cancer has spread. For example, a breast cancer classification of T1 N0 M0 refers to a small tumor located only in the breast that has not spread to surrounding lymph nodes or any other part of the body.