Ovarian cancer is a disease that develops in a woman’s ovary. The cancer can either begin in the ovary or cancerous cells can be spread from other parts of the body. Ovaries are inside the woman’s pelvic area. From the beginning of puberty all the way until menopause, the ovaries produce female hormones. The job of these hormones is to regulate the menstrual cycle/menstruation. Ovaries also include eggs which are regulated by the hormones during the cycle. Once an ovarian cell becomes cancerous, it will begin to multiply itself and spread quite rapidly.
A tumor on the ovary is created when the cells multiply. It is possible for the tumor to interfere with the functions of the ovary. It can also spread to other areas inside the pelvis by breaking itself off and infecting that area. The cancer cells themselves can also spread by traveling through the bloodstream and therefore infecting several other body parts. There are several different types of tumors: Epithelial Tumors, which are estimated to be responsible for almost 90% of all ovarian cancers.
These tumors grow in a layer of cube shaped cells known as the germinal epithelium, which surround the outside of the ovaries. The second type of tumors that can develop are called Germ Cell Tumors. The account for 3% of ovarian cancer cases and are found in the egg making cells of the ovary. They are found mostly in teenagers and young women. They spread rapidly as well, but are quite weak and are treatments are usually very successful.
Another form are referred to as Stromal Tumors which are found in 6% of all ovarian cancer cases. The form from connective tissue cells that hold the ovary together and those that produce female hormones, estrogen, and progesterone. Stromal tumors don’t normally spread which is very good news for the patient, however, this type of tumor is somewhat difficult to treat.
Chemotherapy can be used to try and kill or control the cancer. Medicines target and treat a specific area. Medication travels to all parts of the body through the bloodstream, just like the cancer cells. Chemo is a systemic treatment, which means that it affects the entire body. There are several types of chemotherapy and the medicine given depends on the severity of the cancer. Patients receive this therapy to try to control the growth of the cancer, cure it, or relieve pain caused by the cancer. Treatment is given in the veins. This is done so that the medication enters the bloodstream quickly. Some are given orally, which are absorbed from the stomach then into the bloodstream. Since the side effects can be severe, medicines are given prior to the actual chemotherapy treatment. After chemotherapy further complication can be created by the treatment as a side effect. Bone marrow suppression is one side effect. Reduction of white blood cells makes a patient more susceptible to infection and the lowered numbers of red blood cells will make the patient bleed easier. Hair loss can also be a side effect. The person does not completely become bald, rather their hair tends to thin out. Nausea and fatigue are also major side effects from the treatment.