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Thursday, 22 September 2011

What Is Ovarian Cancer?

Ovaries, the twin organs that produce a woman's eggs and are the main source of  the female hormones estrogen and progesterone, and this cancer begins in the ovaries. Cancer of the ovaries occurs in older age group, however the middle age group women can't be excluded. Treatments for ovarian cancer have become more effective especially when the disease is found early. 
Ovarian Cancer Symptoms
    Discomfort in the lower abdomen (Early detection)
    Bloating or pressure in the belly.
    Pain in the abdomen or pelvis.
    Feeling full too quickly during meals.
    Urinating more frequently.
    Loss of weight (Early detection)
    Occasional shortness of breath due to presence of fluid in  the pleura
 {Please note that these symptoms can be caused by many conditions that are not cancer. If they occur daily for more than a few weeks, report them to your health care professional.}
 Risk Factors:  1. Strong Family History, 2. Age, and 3. Obesity.
1. Family History: Women with a strong family history should talk with a doctor to see whether closer medical follow-up could be helpful. Odds of developing it are higher if a close relative has had cancer of the ovaries, breast, or colon (inherited genetic changes account for 10% of ovarian cancers, this includes the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations, which are linked to breast cancer).
2. Age: The  strongest risk factor for ovarian cancer is age - most likely to develop after menopause period. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) may increase the risk.
3. Obesity: Obese women have a higher risk of getting ovarian cancer, including death rates than other women.
Screening Tests:
There are two ways to screen for ovarian cancer, especially for women with strong risk factors. 

1. Blood test for elevated levels of a protein called CA-125, and other markers like CEA, AFP, HCG, LDH. These are found to be increased in ovarian cancer and estimation of them can be helpful.
2. An ultrasound of the ovaries may show an enlargement of the involved ovaries.

Treatment Options:
Surgery, Radiation, Chemotherapy  - it depends on the stage of the disease.

Survival is best in stage I and II

New Developments:

Genetic Variations in Women With Ovarian Cancer

{Source: WebMD}

In two separate studies involving nearly 11,000 women with ovarian cancer, researchers identified genetic variants in five DNA regions (chromosomes 2, 3, 8, 17, and 19) of the genome that affect the risk of ovarian cancer.
The results, published in Nature Genetics, show four out of the five genetic variations were more common in women who had the most aggressive form of ovarian cancer.

Genetic 'Typos' Linked to Other Cancers

Some of these DNA regions have already been implicated in other types of cancer.
“Common genetic ‘typos’ at 8q24 have already been shown to render some people vulnerable to prostate, colorectal, breast and bladder cancers, so it’s not too surprising that there may be something there related to ovarian cancer," says researcher Ellen Goode, PhD, a genetic epidemiologist at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, in a news release.  
"What is surprising is that we found that three of the most common [genetic variations] for ovarian cancer lie quite a distance away from this bunch of troublemakers - in an apparent gene desert - which suggests they may be causing functional problems by a very different mechanism,” Goode says.
Researchers say the findings suggest that the same genetic region may play a role in both breast and ovarian cancer.
"This is important because it suggests that women who carry certain versions of this stretch of DNA could benefit from closer monitoring for both breast and ovarian cancers,” says researcher Simon Gayther, PhD, professor of preventive medicine at the University of Southern California.