Ovarian Cancer

By: Jonathan, Frances, Samantha

Basic Information

What is Ovarian Cancer?

Known as the "Silent Killer", ovarian cancer begins in the ovaries, which are female reproductive glands. This disease is when cancerous cells are found in of course, the ovaries. The disease is found in the later stages when the cancer has spread throughout the abdomen and distant organs. The ovaries produce eggs necessary for reproduction. These eggs go through the fallopian tubes into the uterus where the egg develops into a fetus. On each side of the pelvis, there is one ovary (What is Ovarian Cancer?).


Frances

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Who this affects

Family History of Ovarian Cancer: If the mother, sister or daughter had ovarian cancer, one individual will have an increase risk of developing the disease. Around 7-10% of ovarian cancers result from an inherited gene. This gene is the same genetic abnormality that occurs in breast cancer.

Age: Most epithelial ovarian cancers occurs after menopause, which is considered to have occurred when a woman goes without a menstrual period for one year. This occurs at age 51 on average and half of the ovarian cancer victims are found in women over the age of 60.

Reproductive History: Starting menstruation at an early age (before 12), not having children, or having a first child after age 30, and experiencing menopause after age 50 will increase the chances of having ovarian cancer.

Other: If one individual had a history of breast cancer, the chances of ovarian cancer also increases. Long-term use of fertility drug will also increase a woman's risk of developing borderline EOC. Talcum powder applied to the genital area or on sanitary napkins will also increase the chances of ovarian cancer. Although this link is not well documented, there is still a chance of cancer (Taking Charge: Who Gets ovarian Cancer?).


Frances

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Symptoms

Some symptoms of ovarian cancer may be shown at early stages, but women will likely show the symptoms if the disease has been spread beyond the ovaries. The most common symptoms include:
  • Bloating
  • Pelvic Pain
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Being full quickly
  • Trouble eating
  • Urinary problems


Other symptoms may be caused by other conditions, and most of the following conditions occur often in women who do not have ovarian cancer. Other symptoms of ovarian cancer include:

  • Fatigue
  • Upset stomach
  • Back Pain
  • Constipation
  • Abdominal swelling with weight loss (Signs and Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer)


Frances

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Stages

When diagnosed with ovarian cancer, the stage of the tumor can be determined during surgery. The treatment plan is determined by the stage of cancer you have. There are four stages of ovarian cancer- Stage 1 which is early disease to stage 4 which is the advanced disease.

Stage 1: The growth of the cancer is limited to the ovaries or ovary.

Stage 1A: Growth is limited to one ovary and the tumor is inside the ovary. There is no cancer on the outer surface.

Stage 1B: Growth is limited to both ovaries without any tumor on the outside surface.

Stage 1C: The tumor is either classified as Stage 1A or stage 1B and one or more of the following is present: (1) tumor is present on the outer surface on one or both ovaries; (2) the capsule has ruptured; and (3) there are ascites containing containing malignant cells.

Stage 2: The growth of the cancer involves one or both ovaries with pelvic extension.

Stage 2A: The cancer has invaded or involves the uterus or the fallopian tubes, or both.

Stage 2B: The cancer has spread to other pelvic organs.

Stage 2C: The tumor is either classified as Stage 2A or 2B and one or more of the following is present: (1) the tumor is present on the outer surface of one or both ovaries; (2) the capsule has ruptured; and (3) there are ascites containing malignant cells

Stage 3: The growth of the cancer involves on or both ovaries, and one or both of the following is present: (1) the cancer has spread beyond the pelvis to the lining of the abdomen; and (2) the cancer has spread to lymph nodes.

Stage 3A: A practitioner can see cancer involving one or both of the ovaries, but no cancer is visible in the abdomen and it has not spread to lumph nodes. When biopsies are checked underneath a microscope, smal deposits of cancer are found in the abdominal peritoneal surfaces.

Stage 3B: The tumor is in one or both ovaries and the deposits of cancer are present in the abdomen that is less than 2 centimeters, but large enough for the surgeon to see.

Stage 3C: the tumor is in one or both ovaries, and one or both of the following is present: (1) the cancer has spread to lymph nodes; and/or (2) the deposits of cancer is well over 2cm in diameter and found in the abdomen.

Stage 4: growth of the cancer involves one or both ovaries and the cancer spreads to organs located outside of the peritoneal cavity. Finding ovarian cancer cells in pleural fluid is also evidence of stage 4 disease (Menu).


Frances

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History

In ovarian cancer, there are two genes that cause this disease. It is closely related to breast cancer, which both contain BRCA1 and BRCA2. The BRCA1 gene was found 21 years ago and the BRCA2 gene was found quickly afterwards (Peirce). The America Cancer Society has estimated by 2015, 21,290 new cases of ovarian cancer will be diagnosed and 14,180 women will die of ovarian cancer in the U.S. The Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) Program reports that in 2012 in the United States approximately 192,446 women were alive who had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer (Ovarian Cancer Statistics). From 2002 to 2011 in the United States, the incidents rate of ovarian cancer has decreased significantly by many different races of women expect the American Indian/ Alaska Native women, which remained level. The death rate from ovarian cancer from 2002 to 2011 has decreased significantly as well among white women and Hispanic women. The others such as black women, American Indian/ Alaska Native women, and Asian/ Pacific Islander women remained the same (Ovarian Cancer Trends).


Frances

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Research

Scientists and researches are still trying to find the main cause of ovarian cancer. The only information they know, is which gene causes the mutation. The mutation in BRCA 1/ 2 can cause ovarian cancer (Ovarian Cancer). This mutation can be passed down through generations, but researches still don't know what causes the mutation (Do We Know What Causes Ovarian Cancer). The lack of information needs your help. With your support, we can fund these research facilities to advance the research needed to save lives!


Jonathan

Genetics

The mutation in the BRCA gene can be passed down through offspring. The mutation occurs in either chromosome 13 or 17 depending on which BRCA gene is affected. If BRCA 1 is affected, then the mutation will be apparent in chromosome 17. If BRCA 2 is affected, then chromosome 13 will be affected. The mutation of BRCA 1 or 2 greatly increases the chance of getting ovarian cancer for a female (BRCA 1 & BRCA 2: Cancer Risk and Genetic Testing).


Jonathan

Treatment

Chemotherapy & Surgery

To treat Ovarian Cancer, the patient must go through chemotherapy and surgery. Most people won't see that they have Ovarian Cancer until the later stages because there are no symptoms or obvious warning signs in the earlier stages. The cancer first starts showing itself in stages 3 and 4, so surgery to remove as much of the cancer is usually the first step of treatment. Ovarian Cancer is not very easy to remove because the cancer cells will spread and quickly hide in the abdomen. The surgery will not take out all the cancer, so chemotherapy is the next step to remove the rest of the cancer. Chemotherapy is a process of treatment where chemical substances and other drugs are used to get rid of the cancer. The amount of times someone has to go through chemotherapy strictly depends on what stage the cancer is at (Watson).

Cost

Ovarian Cancer Treatment is usually covered by health insurance. The treatment includes a doctor visit, lab and prescription drug and coinsurance of 10%-50% for surgery and other procedures.


If someone doesn't have health insurance, the surgery for ovarian cancer can range from $20,000 for surgery to up to $200,000 for surgery and chemotherapy.


A Hysterectomy, a complete removal of the uterus, will cost $10,000- $20,000 (not including doctor fees which are a couple thousand dollars) if the patient doesn't have health insurance.


Chemotherapy costs around $6,000-$16,000 per cycle and usually people with ovarian cancer go through 2 to 6 cycles or more depending on the stage of the cancer. (Ovarian Cancer Treatment Cost).


Samantha

Charity

American Cancer Society is a nationwide organization that helps raise money towards the cause of eliminating cancer. This organization helps look for cures, help people get well, and help to fight back against cancer. This charity is a very good organization to donate to because it helps people with a variety of cancers. It already helps a lot of people that are having to deal with cancer and the money going into this charity will bring the society one step closer to destroying this deadly disease and can help save another life (American Cancer Society).

Jonathon's Bibliography

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Frances' Bibliography

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Discussion Questions

What is ovarian cancer?

Do you know anyone else that was affected by this cancer?

Looking at the smore, what color represents ovarian cancer?

Who is at risk for ovarian cancer?

What two genes affect ovarian cancer?