Women and Ovarian Cancer

Women and Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer is the eighth most common cancer in women1,2 but ranks fifth in terms of mortality.2 This is partly because many women with early stages of ovarian cancer have no symptoms.

 

Statistics show that two-thirds of all women with ovarian cancer have advanced disease at the time of diagnosis.3 Less than 50% of women survive longer than five years after being diagnosed.3

  •  Each year, 240,000 women are diagnosed worldwide with ovarian cancer, and 125,000 women will die from this disease. 4
  • In 2009, ovarian cancer resulted in an economic burden of $4.9 billion.4
  • By 2020, there will be more than 303,000 new cases of ovarian cancer annually.4

 

Ovarian cancer forms in the tissue of the ovary. Most ovarian cancers manifest as either ovarian epithelial carcinomas, which originate in the cells on the surface of the ovary, or malignant germ cell tumors that begin in the oocytes.5

 

Risk Factors

Ovarian cancer is typically a disease of post-menopausal women, as age is a major risk factor. However, ovarian cancer has a set of both risk and protective factors that span the pre- and post-menopausal years.

Risk factors6 that may increase the occurrence of ovarian cancer include:

  • Age
  • Family history
  • Genetic factors (BRCA 1/2)
  • Hormone replacement
  • Fertility drugs
  • Obesity

Protective factors that may decrease the occurrence of ovarian cancer include:

  • Oral contraceptive use
  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding
  • Bilateral tubal ligation or hysterectomy
  • Prophylactic oophorectomy

Symptoms

One of the challenges of ovarian cancer is that early cancer does not have obvious symptoms.7 When symptoms do occur, they may not relate obviously to ovarian cancer.

 

The most common ovarian cancer symptoms are:

  • Pressure or pain in the abdomen, pelvis, back, or legs
  • Swollen or bloated abdomen
  • Nausea, indigestion, gas, constipation, or diarrhea
  • Fatigue

 

Other symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling the need to urinate often
  • Unusual vaginal bleeding

Solutions

Reducing the burden of ovarian cancer in women includes:

  • Understanding risk factors
  • Making rapid, accurate diagnoses when symptoms occur
  • Implementing appropriate therapies
  • Monitoring treatment

 

Laboratory diagnostic testing plays an integral role in caring for women with ovarian cancer. Siemens' comprehensive solutions follow the complete continuum of care for ovarian cancer, including risk assessment and early prevention, diagnosis, therapy, and aftercare. In addition, our solutions in healthcare IT support the exchange of data for making informed decisions.


 

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