Guide to Advanced Surgery for Women's Health
Why Choose Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital for Ovarian Cancer Treatment?
The well trained and highly specialized gynecological surgeons at Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital evaluate the overall health condition of patients with ovarian cancer and provide the best possible treatment advice. The patients may be given the option to choose from the various non-surgical and surgical treatment options available. The treatment that is considered best for your symptoms and severity of ovarian cancer will be undertaken.
Ovaries are the glands that produce ovum and female hormones and are positioned one on each side of the uterus. The shape and size of the ovary resemble an almond. The ovum that is released from the ovary travels through the fallopian tubes to reach the uterus. Any abnormal growth of cells in any part of the ovaries may lead to the development of a cancerous tumor.
In such conditions, the cells of the ovary start growing out of control, spreading to the adjacent parts, and invading other areas of the body. Early detection and treatment can help you recover fast. Detection of ovarian cancer at an early stage is challenging since there will be mild or no symptoms at all until cancer has reached an advanced stage.
There are different types of treatments available to treat ovarian cancer. The major treatment modalities for ovarian cancer are surgery and chemotherapy. Almost all women with ovarian cancer will require surgical removal as their first treatment for cancer. The surgeon will remove as much of cancerous tissues as possible.
Surgical Procedures for Ovarian Cancer Performed at Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital
Unilateral oophorectomy: This procedure is done if only one ovary is affected and if the cancer is in the early stages only one ovary is removed.
Bilateral oophorectomy: In this procedure, both the affected ovaries are removed, but the adjacent tissues and structures are left intact.
Unilateral salpingo-oophorectomy: In this procedure, only one ovary is affected and the adjacent fallopian tube is removed.
Bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy: In this surgical procedure, both the ovaries and fallopian tubes are removed.
Omentectomy: A fold of the abdominal tissue lining the abdominal wall called omentum is removed. This procedure may be combined with other procedures such as the removal of ovaries, fallopian tubes, or uterus depending on the extent of cancer.
Hysterectomy: If cancer has spread further from the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus, doctors will consider the removal of ovaries, fallopian tubes, a part of the uterus, or the entire uterus. The draining lymph nodes may also be removed if required. This is done as a life-saving procedure when your cancer has reached advanced stages.
Drugs and Other Treatment Methods for Ovarian Cancer
Intraperitoneal chemotherapy »
Targeted therapy »
Radiation therapy »
Biological therapy or immunotherapy »
There are three different types of cells in the ovary. A different type of tumor may grow in each cell and the types are as follows:
Germ cell tumor »
Epithelial tumor »
Stromal tumor »
Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer
Ovarian cancer at the initial stages may not cause any symptoms. When symptoms are noticed, cancer could have reached an advanced stage. Some of the symptoms of ovarian cancer are:
- A heavy feeling or pain in the pelvis
- Pain in the lower abdomen accompanied with swelling at times
- Bleeding from the vagina
- Weight gain or loss
- Abnormal periods
- Unexplained back pain that gets worse
- Bloating, nausea, vomiting, or loss of appetite
- Gastrointestinal tract problems such as constipation
Sometimes, it is possible that the above conditions may not be associated with ovarian cancer, and it is always better to consult your doctor and have your problem evaluated and treated at the earliest. Most types of cancer can be cured successfully if detected early and treated immediately.
Diagnosis of Ovarian Cancer
The first step in the diagnosis of ovarian cancer includes history and physical examination to check for signs such as enlargement and fluid accumulation in the abdomen. If your doctor suspects ovarian cancer during a physical examination, the following tests will be done to diagnose ovarian cancer.
- Imaging tests: Computed tomography (CT) scans and ultrasound examination may be done to confirm the presence of a mass in the pelvis; however, these studies do not confirm cancer.
- Ultrasound Examination: This is the first test performed whenever ovarian problems are suspected. Ultrasonography often helps differentiate a solid mass from a fluid-filled cyst.
- Computed tomography scans: These scans can reveal larger tumors and may be able to show if the tumor extends into surrounding structures. It may also show lymph node enlargement and spread of cancer to other organs.
- Chest X-ray: This is usually done to check whether ovarian cancer has spread to involve the lungs.
Biopsy: This procedure involves the removal of a sample tissue from the suspected region and examining it under a microscope. In the case of ovarian cancer, a biopsy is done by removal of the tumor.
Blood tests: Blood cell count tests will be ordered to ensure that you have normal counts of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Tests that check kidney and liver functions are also performed. Your doctor will also advise a CA-125 test, and women with high levels of CA-125 are referred to an oncologist.
Risk Factors for Ovarian Cancer
Age: Older women between 50 and 60 years of age are at a greater risk of developing ovarian cancer.
Genetic mutation and inheritance: Other types of cancer genes may transform themselves into ovarian cancer cells. If anyone in your family has had ovarian cancer in the past, you will be at a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer.
Hormone replacement therapy: If you are undergoing treatment with prolonged and large doses of estrogen therapy, you will be at higher risk of ovarian cancer.
The age at which menstruation starts and terminates: Menstruation starting before 12 years and or ending after 52 years both can pose a risk for ovarian cancer.
Conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome and endometriosis: Women with polycystic ovarian syndrome experience an imbalance in their hormones and a greater risk of developing ovarian cancer.
Other risk factors include:
- Fertility treatments and the use of intrauterine devices
Causes of Ovarian Cancer
The cause of ovarian cancer is not clearly understood, but genetic mutation is thought to be one of the strong reasons. Having one or few of the above risk factors may not necessarily mean that you will develop ovarian cancer. There are women with ovarian cancer but without any of the above-mentioned risk factors. Studies have shown that usually women have lesser than 2% chances of developing ovarian cancer in their lifetime.
Researchers have proved that ginger destroys ovarian cancer cells, and is an excellent medicine for treating ovarian cancer. It has been found that ginger kills ovarian cancer cells in two ways. First, by the self-destruction of cells called apoptosis, and secondly, by autophagy - in which the cells get digested by themselves.
In a detailed study, which involved administration of the herb ginkgo biloba to a large number of women with ovarian cancer and even healthy persons, the researchers have shown that this herb possesses a strong potential of reducing the risk of ovarian cancer.
Scientists through their research have found that consumption of 2 to 3 cups of green tea regularly for a considerable period can reduce your risk of developing ovarian cancer. In addition, green tea may also prevent the growth and spread of cancer cells.
A study conducted on flaxseed has shown that the lignans present in flaxseed are considered to be phytoestrogens that are capable of plugging into estrogen receptors and block the stronger formation of the hormone, which aggravates ovarian cancer. Flaxseed lignans also act as an antioxidant.
There are several measures that can help in preventing ovarian cancer.
During each ovulation, the ovum emerges out through the surface of the ovaries and gets released into the uterus. This may cause slight damage to the surface of the ovary. However, new cells start to grow rapidly and repair the surface. This is a continual process that occurs during each ovulation. Occasionally, overgrowth or thickening of these ovarian cells can happen and can lead to ovarian cancer. Therefore, any measure that interferes with the process of ovulation can help in minimizing your chances of developing ovarian cancer.
Here are some preventive measures recommended:
Contraceptive pills: The right dosage and duration of contraceptive pills should be taken.
Removal of ovaries: This option is considered only when the patient does not want to conceive anymore.
Weight loss measures for obese and overweight women
Diet: Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet may be helpful to reduce weight and lower the risk of getting ovarian cancer.
Exercise: Regular exercise may also be helpful in shedding excess weight and improving overall health. It also plays a key role in setting right hormonal imbalances.
Pregnancy: Pregnancy and breastfeeding reduce the chances of ovarian cancer.
Lifestyle: Quit smoking and use of other tobacco products.
If you have pelvic discomfort or irregular menstrual bleeding, feel free to contact the gynecology specialists of Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital for the best medical treatment and speedy recovery.