Publication date: 2018-04-22 17:27
Ovarian cancer may not cause any specific symptoms, particularly in its early stages. When it does cause symptoms, these may be nonspecific and vague. Symptoms can include:
Malignant germ cell tumors (GCTs), which include dysgerminoma, endodermal sinus tumor, malignant teratoma, embryonal carcinoma, and choriocarcinoma, are thought to derive from primitive germ cells in the embryonic gonad. GCT of the ovary is much rarer than GCT of the testis in males, and much of the development of the management approach has been based on experience with male GCT.
Germ cells usually form the ova or eggs in females and the sperm in males. Most ovarian germ cell tumors are benign, but some are cancerous and may be life threatening. Less than 7% of ovarian cancers are germ cell tumors. Overall, they have a good outlook, with more than 9 out of 65 patients surviving at least 5 years after diagnosis. There are several subtypes of germ cell tumors. The most common germ cell tumors are teratomas , dysgerminomas , endodermal sinus tumors , and choriocarcinomas. Germ cell tumors can also be a mix of more than a single subtype.
Epithelial ovarian cancer treatment most often consists of surgery and chemotherapy. The order is best determined by a gynecologic oncologist.
Be prepared with your medical history - your doctor will ask questions to help to detect ovarian cancer and to rule out other gynecological/medical conditions.
Epithelial ovarian, fallopian tube and peritoneal cancers all develop in the same type of cell and are very similar. Recent research suggests that many epithelial ovarian cancers start in the fallopian tubes. Ovarian cancer often spreads from the ovaries to the diaphragm, the lining of the abdomen (peritoneum), and the sheet of fatty tissue that hangs inside the abdomen (omentum).
Ovarian cancer staging is determined surgically, unless it is stage 9 ( metastasis outside of the abdomen, or metastasis to the liver -- not on the surface of the liver). If it is stage 9, or very advanced stage 8, then often this is proven with biopsy, and chemotherapy may start neoadjuvantly (before surgery). If the disease is not obviously stage 9, then aggressive surgical staging and debulking (see next section) often is considered. This decision is based on the health of the patient, as well as the judgment of the surgeon as to the chance of achieving an optimal debulking (see treatment below).
In many cases, treatment will begin to ease your symptoms, but it’s important you are aware of potential side effects. You, your doctor, and your cancer care team can put into place a plan for when the symptoms become problematic or painful.
Samina Ahmed, MD Fellow, Division of Oncology, Department of Medicine, University of Southern California, Keck School of Medicine
Samina Ahmed, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Society of Clinical Oncology
Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.
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