Ovarian cancer is a disease in which cancer cells are found in, near or on the ovaries. There are over 30 types. Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women between the ages of 35 and 74.
What Are Stages and Grades?
When applied to cancer, the term stage describes its level of progression. The higher the number, the further the cancer has spread. In Stage I cancer, the cancer cells are confined to the ovaries; by Stage II, the cancer has spread to the pelvic region. In Stage III, the cancer has spread to the abdominal area, and it has spread throughout the body by Stage IV.
The stages are sometimes subdivided further. In Stage IIA, for example, the cancer has spread to the uterus or fallopian tubes; in Stage IIB, the cancer has reached other reproductive organs. The further down the alphabet, the worse the cancer.
Grade describes the condition of the cells. Normal tissue consists of different types of cells grouped together, while cancer cells lack such differentiation. To determine the grade of the tumor, the doctor will examine some of the cells under a microscope and compare them to normal cells. If the patient has a non-malignant tumor with little chance of spreading, the doctor will grade it as a GB.
A low grade cancer that still has a lot of normal-looking cells will be classed as a G1, and one with a moderate number of abnormal cells will be a G2. Cancers that are graded G3 or G4 are high-grade cancers with a lot of abnormal cells. Such cells grow more rapidly than normal cells, and the cancer is, therefore, more likely to spread.
Doctors need to know the stage and grade of a cancer to determine the best treatment for a patient.
What Are the Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer?
Ovarian cancer is an insidious disease that rarely causes symptoms during the early stages. Consequently, only about 20 percent of cases are diagnosed during Stage I or Stage II, when the survival rate is relatively high.
To make matters worse, the symptoms that do develop can be readily confused with more benign conditions, like irritable bowel syndrome. Symptoms of ovarian cancer can include the following:
• Abdominal bloating
• Constipation or other changes in bowel habits
• Weight loss
• Discomfort in the pelvic area
• Need to urinate frequently
• Quickly getting full when eating
Other symptoms can include back pain, heartburn or an upset stomach, changes in menstrual cycles, fatigue or pain during sex.
A key sign of cancer is the persistence of the above symptoms. If they continue and don’t respond to usual treatments like laxatives, rest or exercise, then the patient needs to see a doctor. Some of the symptoms, like the increased need to urinate, are caused by the tumor’s growth and resultant pressure on other organs like the bladder.
How is Ovarian Cancer Treated?
If you are suffering from any of the above symptoms, South Lake OB/GYN in Clermont is here to help. If ovarian cancer is detected, do not fret; our team of qualified experts can come up with a treatment plan that is right for you. Contact us today to schedule your appointment to learn more.