Ovarian cancer forms in the tissue surrounding the ovaries, the tissue that connects the ovary to the fallopian tube, or in the cells that produce eggs. Cancers of the ovaries and fallopian tubes are the fifth leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women.
The ovaries are small glands on either side of the uterus that are responsible for releasing eggs during the menstrual cycle, and for producing the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. These hormones have important functions that range from protecting the heart and bones to regulating the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and menopause.
There are three main types of ovarian cancer:
Epithelial- About 90% of all ovarian cancers are epithelial meaning in the outer lining of the ovary.
Germ cell- Germ cell ovarian cancer is most common in women over 50. About 5%of all ovarian cancers are germ cell and begin in the cells that produce the eggs.
Stromal tumor- Stromal tumor cancer is most common in women under 30. About 5% of all ovarian cancers are stromal tumor and begin in the connective tissue of the ovary. Stromal tumors are the least likely to spread.
Ovarian Cancer Facts and Statistics
- In 2015, there will be approximately 21,290 new cases of ovarian cancer in the United States.
- There will be about 14,180 deaths from ovarian cancer in the United States in 2015.
- Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women.
- Most women who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer are over 63 years of age.
- The average five-year survival rate for ovarian cancer is 92%, and that number drops to 72% once the cancer has spread to surrounding tissue or organs.
- The ten-year survival rate for ovarian cancer is 35%.
Symptoms and Risk Factors
The most common risk factor for ovarian cancer is the genetic disorder BRCA1 or BRCA2. These two genes cause about 15% of all ovarian cancers. About 25% of all women with ovarian cancer have a genetic tendency towards the disease. You can be easily tested for these genes.
Lynch syndrome, or HNPCC, is another generic disorder that can cause ovarian cancer. Women with this condition are at risk for developing colorectal cancer, uterine cancer, and a 12% risk of developing ovarian cancer.
Other risk factors include:
- Being over 63 years old
- Having a child after 30, or never having children
- Starting menstruation before the age of 12
- Having never taken oral contraceptives
- Undergoing hormone replacement therapy
- Having a personal or family history of ovarian cancer or other conditions of the ovaries.
Symptoms of ovarian cancer mostly appear at advanced stages of the cancer, and are similar to many benign conditions like irritable bowel syndrome. These symptoms include:
- Pelvic and abdominal pain
- Feeling full too quickly when eating
- Upset stomach
- Changes in bowel movements
- Urinary symptoms like urgency (constantly feeling like you need to go)
- Back pain
- Abdominal swelling and weight loss
Diagnosing Ovarian Cancer
Currently there are no early screening tests for ovarian cancer, or tests that allow doctors to test for cancer in patients who are not showing symptoms. If a patient is at high risk or is showing symptoms, doctors may choose from several diagnostic tests.
Blood tests can show elevated levels of a protein called CA-125, a marker for ovarian cancer. CA-125 also occurs with many benign conditions like inflammation in the ovarian tubes, so blood tests may not provide a sure sign of cancer.
Doctors can also use imaging tests like ultrasounds and CT scans to detect tumor growth, or can conduct a pelvic exam to feel any changes in the ovaries or uterus.
Ovarian Cancer Treatment
According to the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, the most common and effective treatment for ovarian cancer is surgery to remove tumors. Still only 37% of all ovarian cancer patients receive this treatment.
Doctors can also aim to destroy cancer cells through the use of radiation, chemotherapy, or other targeted drug therapies.
Malpractice Lawsuits For Ovarian Cancer In Maryland
Many cases of ovarian cancer are a result of genetic conditions. Doctors should know your full personal and family medical history and should be able to make diagnostic recommendations based on potentially inherited conditions.
If patients do not have a genetic predisposition to ovarian cancer, but are showing symptoms, doctors will need to order the proper diagnostic tests, communicate the results to the patient, and possibly refer the patient to an expert. If doctors make serious, negligent mistakes in the diagnostic process patients may suffer permanent damage or death.
Patients who suffered from negligent diagnosis errors struggle with high medical costs, lost wages, and physical and emotional suffering. If your family or personal history was overlooked by a medical professional, or if a medical professional failed to order necessary diagnostic tests and relay their results to you and any other medical professionals who needed to know, you may be eligible for compensation.
The experienced medical malpractice attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian can help you protect your legal rights. You will not pay any attorney fees until you get your desired case results. Call out offices today at (800) 529-6162.