Ovarian tumors are cancerous growths that form on a woman’s ovaries.
The exact cause of ovarian tumors is unknown, but it is believed that there may be links to hormones and genetics.Ovarian tumors are the second most common gynecological cancer.
Most of the tumors are believed to form on the surface of the ovaries, although there is some evidence indicating that they can also form on the fallopian tubes. In the United States there are 82,000 women diagnosed with some type of gynecological cancer each year.
Signs & Symptoms
One of the biggest issues with ovarian tumors is that they are difficult to detect. Symptoms may be subtle and easily confused with many other ailments. This makes diagnosis difficult until the tumor is already in advanced stages. Signs and symptoms may include bloating, pain in the abdomen, difficulty eating, fatigue, constipation, vaginal bleeding, and weight loss.
Ovarian tumors are first diagnosed through a physical exam, blood tests and an ultrasound. If your doctor suspects an ovarian tumor he or she will most likely order a complete blood count (CBC) and a blood test called CA-125. In 2011 a new test called OVA1 has greatly helped to improve detection of ovarian tumors. Surgery and a biopsy of the cells is necessary for a specific and confirmed diagnosis of ovarian tumors. The cells are looked at under a microscope. Depending on the results the ovarian cancer can then be best diagnosed and treated.
Treatment for ovarian tumors depends on how widespread the cancer is, as well as the type and grade of the tumor. Traditional treatment for ovarian tumors is a combination of chemotherapy and surgery. Depending on the staging of the tumor they may remove just the tumor, or also surrounding tissues. This can include ovaries, fallopian tubes and the uterus. Sometimes radiotherapy is also used, but not often. Radiation is less effective in treating ovarian tumors due to the damage that it does to surrounding tissues.
Unfortunately the prognosis for those diagnosed with ovarian tumors is generally poor. This is due to the lack of screening and the difficulty in diagnosing the tumors until they have had time to progress into advanced stages. Today there is a 47% survival rate, which is up from 38% in the 1970s. The five-year survival rate for all stages of ovarian cancer combined is approximately 45%. With early detection the survival rate can be as high as 93%.