Expert Opinion

Ovarian Cancer: Complexities and Challenges

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By Dr. Imoh Okon

 

The yearly awareness of breast cancer month in October may be over, but the disease is still very much around. Today, we want to focus on another cancer type that impacts many women, ovarian cancer!! Like breast cancer, ovarian cancer is a deadly disease and presents a major challenge to tackle. In addition, ovarian cancer, like its breast cancer counterpart may involve hormones that are required for regulation and normal physiology of the female body. Dysregulation of hormonal inputs can potentially play a role in tumor development or progression, another similarity between breast and ovarian cancer.

Ovarian cancer is a leading cause of death from gynecologic tumors. It represents three broad subgroups, namely, epithelial, stromal or germ cell tumors. Each subgroup presents different etiology and clinical behavior. The majority of ovarian cancers are epithelial ovarian carcinomas (EOC), representing approximately 85 to 90% of known cases (1). Although EOC is primarily a disease of older women with a variable age at diagnosis of 50-63 years (2, 3), it can also occur in younger women of child-bearing age and in rare instances, teenagers have been diagnosed with the disease. Based on histology, additional classifications exist, such as, serous, mucinous, endometrioid, transitional cell tumors, and clear cell carcinomas. Furthermore, ovarian cancer can be small, large, single or multiple, solid masses or fluid-like cell mixtures called ascities.

Several symptoms associated with ovarian cancer can sometimes be masked and assumed to be normal physiological processes. For example, symptoms may include, cramps or excessive bleeding during menstrual cycle, or feeling bloated. This makes the disease one of the most difficult cancers to diagnose, contributing to advanced disease at the time of diagnoses with usually poor prognoses. As is the case with certain tumors that have grown relatively big, surgical debulking of the tumor burden may be required before conventional radio or chemo-therapy are applied to target residual disease. According to American Cancer Society (ACS) sources, “For all types of ovarian cancer, the 5-year relative survival is 44%.

Women diagnosed when they are younger than 65 do better than older women. If ovarian cancer is found (and treated) before the cancer has spread outside the ovary (stages IA and IB), the 5-year relative survival rate is 92%. However, only 15% of all ovarian cancers are found at this early stage”. “The 5-year survival rate refers to the percentage of patients who live at least 5 years after their cancer is diagnosed. Of course, many people live much longer than 5 years (and even are cured)”.

A major aim of this article is to make women become better aware of the disease, and potential subtle signs to keep an eye on. Awareness, accurate information and appropriate actions will provide better chances of avoiding and defeating the disease.

 

1. Cancer Research UK statistics.

2. Bartlett JMS. Ovarian cancer: methods and protocols. 2000, Humana Press Inc.

3. Ozols RF. Ovarian cancer. 2003, BC Decker Inc.

 

 

imoh

Dr Imoh Okon. Ph.D Imperial College London

With several years of pharmaceutical industry experience from the United Kingdom, and academic & research experiences from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, USA. Dr imoh Okon is at the forefront of cancer research, he is a member of American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Science & Engineering Ambassador. His book “Winning the Fight Against CANCER: a Layman’s Guide” is available on Amazon Kindle.  http://www.amazon.com/Winning-Fight-Against-CANCER-ebook/dp/B00ATRFM70

 

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