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Ovarian cancer

iStock_000002943459XSmallOvarian cancer is relatively rare, but serious, because early detection is not possible. Although progress has been made, the diagnosis is often late for any treatment to be effective.

Located on both sides of the uterus, ovaries are the sexual glands 3-5 cm long, almond shaped.

Their role is twofold:
– Secrete hormones that gives rhythm to the menstrual cycle: estrogen and progesterone;
– Release an egg every month, which is captured by a fallopian tube to be held in possibly meeting with sperm (fecundation).

In most cases of ovarian cancer, malignant tumor develops from mucous or glandular tissue of the ovary.

Frequency and severity
Ovarian cancer affects 8 women for 100,000. He ranks fourth among gynecologic cancers after breast cancer, cervical cancer and cancer of the endometrium, but is the first cause of death by genital cancers. Affects women of all ages, but especially those in menopause. Severity of the disease is diagnosed late, which makes its treatment more difficult. 75% of ovarian cancers are detected in advanced stages.

Risk Factors
Several risk factors are associated with an increased frequency of this cancer:
– Age, risk increasing significantly after 40 years and up to 70 years, then decreasing over this age;
– A small number of children at early menopause;
– A genetic predisposition, found in 5% of cases: to prove that a mutation of the gene involved in predisposition to breast cancer (BRCA1 gene) confers a risk of developing ovarian cancer by 40% (compared with 0.9 % in the general population).

Diagnosis
Diagnosis of this cancer is often delayed because it is manifested by little suggestive signs, which do not produce immediate concern to women: abdominal pain, menstrual disorders, bladder or bowel disorders, fatigue, weight loss.

Clinical examination reveals an increase in volume of the abdomen and the presence of a tumor. Diagnosis is then specified by one test: ultrasonography of pelvis, which highlights suspicious appearance of the ovary (or both ovaries).

Treatment
Current treatment of ovarian cancer is based on the combination of surgery with chemotherapy plus radiotherapy sometimes.

Surgery.
Is the main treatment for ovarian cancer. After opening the abdominal wall (laparotomy) intervention allows inspection of the abdominal cavity to perform a precise balance of cancerous lesions.

Chemotherapy.
Systematically performed after surgery, it allows the elimination of cancer cells from the body. Thanks to new techniques and active substances for nausea, drugs are better tolerated and have a certain efficiency. A great hope is the discovery of new anticancer molecules, extracted from yew, which become active especially in cases of recurrence of ovarian cancer.

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